Adeeba Shahid Talukder

Ammi, A Prayer: Adeeba Shahid Talukder

Ammi, A Prayer

At twenty, I would bury myself
in prostration. That year, the moon
was a circle

in the dark, dimension-
less. In the mirror,
my face was dulling each hour,

my features contorting,
until even I could not bear
to look at myself.

Mother, remember you
told me then to fight with God
as I prayed, to howl

like a child to demand
what was mine? God, then,
seemed too far. I know now;

I only saw you
raising your hands, your fingers
gripping nothing, heard you

crying softly, in the way
a mother must.

~ ~

Faiz writes:
Perhaps the mirror of the world will clear once again.
Perhaps the gaze will travel, once again, to the limits of sight.

~ ~

Each day,
I gaze for hours. There is still
no sign of beauty.

My mother’s prayers remain
unfulfilled. Her children live far

from her, and I do not pray,
though I do
often fight with God.

~ ~

I have always wanted to bow
before you, entreat you
to hold fast to what is yours,

lay at your altar
what you did not know you had.

Mother in the mirror
you, too, have only ever seen your dark-
ness. Even as your face
adorns it.

Mother, how many times
have you folded?

What have you hushed
in your palms?

30 years you spoke God’s
every name,
waiting for Him to turn,

to see you

Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a Pakistani American poet, singer, and translator of Urdu and Persian poetry. She is the author of What Is Not Beautiful (Glass Poetry Press, 2018) and her book Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved, forthcoming through Tupelo Press, is a winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. Adeeba holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and is a Poets House 2017 Emerging Poets Fellow