You burned your infant sister’s face with boiling water. Did you ever like the color red and its fiery gradient? I saw when you set fire to the white sofa in your living room. I was relieved when you burned it down. I never liked it; it had piss marks on the edges. I heard they force-fed you pills with eggs. They told me you threw it all up, just like I did. I saw you at your house last month. Your voice was cracking, your moustache growing. Did you remember me and our childhood play? Together, we’d color the skies blue.
You hang to a wall in a dark room. Your sketch is preserved in paper but isn’t it too late now? Too late, too late but hang in there. A man sketches your eyes and your lips, His granite strokes are blood-fresh. You stare into his pink collared-shirt. The stripes, vertical, please you. Your uncle, ours, is walking his stray dog still. No one gives a damn about me, you or him. Your brother lives in a secluded cupboard. Your sister has a familiar poker-face. Your father resides faraway. Your mother cooks her hours every day. The yellow stains on her apron smell like neglect, But how could she pay attention, dear? The house feels like cold arctic air. The only time we meet is when you hang in the room. Even then, you close your eyes and refuse to look.
God knows where the sketch went. Were you tired of staring at your wretched self? Did you burn it down or tear it to sheds? The dark room resembles a grave. The fan is off but still wildly tossing itself. I sit in our grandfather’s room and wait. You emerge, holy and Jesus-like, from your bed. Your beard is growing black, inch by inch. Your hair is the same, but your eyes are wet caves. You stand at the door like a barricade. I want to ask: “did you remember how we played?” But you slam the door shut. My heart trembles like machinery. I travel through your kitchen to find water and Imagine you standing there, your gun loaded.
A Storm Among Dinner Trays
Pixelated dust and the clamor of dishes, Waves of laughter, usual tiredness, And our hearts engaged in hospitality, Cigarettes coiled together like bats in a cave, Smoke erupting holes of Mount Fuji, Here, there are men who leave women, And women who cry to tell the tale, We have the whole lot here, small dinner of Fifty-five. They shut the babies in Grey rooms, nannies lurking above them With grey tongues. The women twirl Their pearls and share stories of stardom And downfall. The men, shining in Brown leather, hunt running animals even at The brown dinner table. Gargoyles stare from Outside the windows, trying to discover Historical reincarnation. The storm breaks Loose. “All must end up in Hell,” they cry. Now we have drenched stairs, soaking babies, Sodden nannies, swimming pearls, whirling Leather pieces among the chaos of rain. And us, we just smile and wave goodbye To the party that stormed the night.
I am water vapor. I sit in a niche abundant with gentlewomen. They do not complement me with their evil eyes, But talk, talk tirelessly, boasting of their concubine lives.
One runs a commentary on the magnitude of my body, One says I am bizarre and outlandish with her eyes.
My sisters beam and look pleased, adjusting their frills.
Upon a tabletop lie, bouquets of irises, jasmines, lilies, Neoteric, watered and flourishing, Seducing the whole room with their bewitchery.
Everybody loves a beauteous iris. Everybody loves a seedling which can grow to become beautiful.
Aytan Laleh is a twenty-one-year-old writer based in Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming with Eunoia Review, Riggwelter Press, Picaroon Poetry, isacoustic and Bone & Ink Press. She writes under a pseudonym and tweets at @AytanLaleh.