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Alone, in Halves

Before incineration, my father’s eyeball

was placed into a plastic bag like a carnival 

goldfish or lamb delved into butcher’s 

portions. As a child, I saw the head 

of an animal my father slaughtered

displayed on ice. Once ununited, 

the body is never part of it again. 

Memories of how a zamindar's mute 

child was gifted multiple tongues: 

arranged and alight on a woven bed 

of white silk. From each came the dark 

whimper of something’s last breath, 

electricity before death. A severed ear

in Lahori dust remembers the morning

prayer played on the radio. How much 

is about the displaced heart? Nothing 

speaks without a body. My father’s retina 

frayed, devastating for a weaver—his remaining 

eye without a partner. I desire intimacy.

A togetherness. Instead of asking—

how are you? We ask: what did you see? 

In lieu of bouquets for new lovers,

we offer litanies of vision—betrayal

of pink cat-mouth peonies blooming

in the neighbor’s garden. Shaded drips

of constellations fell from the faucet 

of a wet April night. The ripped net 

from an armful of oranges bursts

into halves. I remember the first time I desired 

you to desire me. The light blue cleft 

of your cool eyes. Where or why 

or however, you would like. 

I inherited this blade. 


JAI HAMID BASHIR is a Pakistani-American artist. She has been published in American Poetry Review, POETRY Magazine, The Adroit Journal, Frontier, Denver Quarterly, Radar, Palette Poetry, Asian American Writers Workshop, and others. Jai is a graduate of Columbia University and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. 


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