Dilruba Ahmed

My son’s voice in the empty

backseat. Dried ice cream on T-shirts.

My mother’s gray-black hair

in the dal.

                  My love’s pillow—creased, still

warm. My son’s backpack, stuffed

with weathered books. My sister’s

dried bouquet, petals intact.

                                            Broken chain

with arrowhead, and the boy

who gave it to me: how nervously

I brushed him off, how callous

it seems now.

                      Photos of my sister

in pigtails, arriving from overseas,

my mother’s sari whipping

in the breeze. My father’s

maroon vest, pilled

and worn. The crashing shelves

of my sister’s anger.

                               Steaming cups

of tea with chipped porcelain lips.

Frilled paper turkeys hung

on hospital walls—

                               the snowflakes, the hearts,

the clovers to follow. The pizza shop’s

neon at night. My father’s shoes

by the doorway


My baby, born in a blizzard.

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