Mama, I miss the language.
My tongue hits the roof of my mouth,
comes back homeless.
Our home in the hills
is still there, Mama. Hussein and his truck of milk
still pass our mango tree at dawn.
Where in April, the wind flirts with the hills
and together, they whistle.
Where in January, the women pull their shawls
tighter around their shoulders,
chew cardamom pods for good luck.
Mama, this ground does not taste sacred.
This soil does not breed beautiful,
this house is little more than skeleton.
Mama, Karachi is the boy in our dreams,
sitting at the steps of a white mansion, between the
skyward pillars, his bare feet in a puddle
of children’s hands.
Mama, I hear men come home
from the bazaars to see drones
sitting at their dinner tables instead of daughters.
Mama, I miss the language. Urdu asks to
sit in your throat. English lies at the feet of your teeth,
where it is easy to spit it out.
Urdu asks to use your breath,
makes nests of your lungs,
flies only when the nation is ready.
Mama, there are nuclear bombs being tested
in our jewelry boxes. Mama, I miss the language and
the smell of the mosques opening their doors
all at once.
I miss the way bending your hands in prayer,
God or no God, Allah or none, teaches your fingers
the difference between let’s meet again and
maybe one day.