after Natasha Rao
For years, the only way to speak was to lie. Have you brushed today? Yes. Are you still in bed? No. Have you eaten since yesterday? Yes. I wander the streets of Queens, or Brooklyn, or Manhattan, bird-watching—B&W warblers and American dippers—& writing poems. Two beer cans in my hand, one is for a friend, I say to an inquisitive lady who hesitates to tell me good morning when she sees the two beer cans in my hand. I can only be myself away from my mother’s gaze, into anyone else’s. I have inked my body with colors outside of dust. I have never eaten a rabbit or a duck or even a quail or its eggs. I am afraid of swallowing tenderness. Afraid I will like it. Afraid I’ll remain hungry for the rest of my life. For once, I want my body to stay in my body. Open my mouth and have nothing come out.
—from Rattle #81, Fall 2023
Javeria Hasnain: “I am a poet from Karachi, Pakistan. I write poetry as a way to connect with my core, and to the world at large.”