issue 7: apr 2016, Poetry
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Your Skin Tells Your Story by Orooj-e-Zafar

Loss will find a way under your skin no sun-ray
has ever walked through, undress its baked-brick form,
enrich your vessels with its score, rush to your head
like a compliment you never got before

and make sure every dividing cell remembers
the burn in your chest unraveling like handknit stitches.

Loss is dhikr–
the dowry we take without ever being asked;
it is etched in the muchness of birthmarks,
reinforced in your collaterals so no obstruction could
ever hinder its infinite course.

Loss is your true inheritance, the codon
hidden in your melanin. Your eyes have seen worlds
the spectrum of violence has deemed necessary just
for you–

your body is a canvas of insecurity nestling like a hive-thought
broadcast in all the men you have known;

watch how your pride only inhabits your sleeve.

Loss is your color, paling the rest of the gallows
while your Sama spins spirit
out of your every turn.


Orooj-e-Zafar is nearing her third decade of life with writing published previously at Persephone’s Daughters,, 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 Tara Raemerd (instagram and tumblr). 

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