my skin wears winter so well–
I liberated anonymity from my fingers the moment
it asked and still, the cold slept quietly
beneath my palms.
I couldn’t liberate winter
but I waited for it to leave,
the same way a pseudonym could not
but no one ever asked me about home
perhaps because it couldn’t matter less.
they saw me shed snow like typewritten truths–
when I called myself an island girl they didn’t know
I meant Asia. they didn’t know I bled green
because I sounded too whitewashed;
I was housing slurs under my winter-skin
till I wiped my mouth clean of my Cali accent,
removed my boots for sunny sandals,
my coats for a kameez
my eyes for more kohl
I am a sowed jasmine seed in my hometown,
unplagued by snow and the silence of anonymity
they see little by little by little
of the quiet unraveling in my bones;
they are watching me scream in rewind.
Orooj-e-Zafar is nearing her third decade of life with writing published previously at Persephone’s Daughters,Voicemailpoems.org, two anthologies by Pankhearst (America is Not the World – forthcoming in April 2016 – and Slim Volume: This Body I Live In) and Up The Staircase Quarterly. When she isn’t writing to ventilate, she is trying to make it through medical school in her hometown, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Illustration by Van Hong (website).