Alainah Aamir, Summer 2017

Airport poetry

airports always remind me of someone –
but never a Someone.

The thought is always
variable, always a different one
from the one I thought of the last time
the plane took off only to settle a short
forty-eight minutes later,

the dust settles soon enough, and so do I

The last time, she had black hair
not an easy-to-stomach brown
pitch black, kind of like the way
we left things.

The time before, he was empty
and we meant nothing to one another
but every time he called
my conscience didn’t.

The summer before last, he was nothing
but a manifestation of all the things
I couldn’t have but
asked for anyway.

Vancouver, it was the boy
who sat with me when the rain fell
somewhere near Shaukat Khanum
and stayed even when the storm cleared
although our cars were parked in the driveway.

Every road trip I have taken comes with a subplot
Unravelling, undressing in the footnotes
the boy with an ache in his bones and his ego
this boy, that boy, the stench of mediocrity
kings of entitlement – singing buzzing calling
four in the morning or as the sun begins to set

This time, though – it’s a little different.

I know my identities, priorities
shift like the decade’s last eclipses fast forwarded
and played on a loop, over and over
until even the blood that pours out of me resembles moonshine

but here’s a thought
I am a person with a shifting axis
a compass in the desert in the heart of a sand dune
you know how it goes.

It is always a different chapter
when it is my life
always a funny story always and
it’s complicated, and see I could

take my identities and compartmentalize
them based on the level of glitter oozing from
the poems I was writing
about the newest dalliance
that I knew I would be wrong about eventually

“the bomb is going off no matter what we do,
might as well just sit and watch it happen”

All I remember is the person I am
every time the latest horseman approached me
with a looking glass to my face
pronouncing us carpenter and work-in-progress

maybe the poems have never been about anybody else,
maybe each time it was a new fairytale concocted
by the girl who first read La Belle Dame Sans Merci
from her sister’s course book when she was ten years old.

maybe I am everyone I have ever written about.

Today I am hurling thoughts into the abyss
at lightning bolt speed – each will cause damage
set forests aflame
alter lives and perspectives
change the night to day and back again

but today the abyss will stare back
and play the devil’s advocate
with two faces

1. one is a carpenter
2. the other is its work-in-progress reflection
3. I am both.



McLennan Library, 3:30 AM

Each time your equations fall through
you click your tongue impatiently,
tear off the page and you start again.

I wonder,
will you do the same to her?

All of this wood and I am thinking
of all the coffee I floated into
all the Urdu poetry I walked into
all his traps I fell headfirst into

A little wooden soldier beats a drum
on my heart tonight. Then he cages it.
I breathe deeply but it is to no avail,
there is no air left in the library or the planet
and maybe I should go home and sleep

but if I am to let the sea sail my ship, what use am I?

I imagine a brown eyed woman
drive to the ocean in a bright blue car.

I imagine that she stops the ignition, opens the door
and steps out to breathe for a moment.

I imagine that she starts the car once more,
but instead of driving away she drives into the ocean.

You are a different story.

Imagine an ocean, empty blue clear water beautiful
then imagine hellfire, scorching filling burning reminder
of every sharp edge you have ever run your fingers on
just to see what happens, even though you already know.

Imagine the lovechild of those two feelings –
multiply it with either infinity or all the universe’s stars
whichever one scorches harder.

I like the way it hurts almost as much as life itself.

Do you see it,
all those white hot red hot colours streaking the sky tonight?

Feel the pain with me for a moment,
f o c u s m y l o v e

that is how you make me feel.




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