Adeeba Shahid Talukder
She started as a dot. One could know her just by observing the space around her. Except when she had company— then, they couldn’t discern her at all. It was difficult being a dot— she wasn’t so aware of where she began or ended. She couldn’t stand up straighter than herself.
Robert Hayden once wrote a poem about a father whose hands cracked into the splintering cold. She often thought about what it meant for cold to splinter. She shook off all the lies she’d gathered over the years. Combed the rest out of her hair.
All the women sliced their wrists when they saw Yusuf’s handsome face. They’d been holding the knives for apples. They started spitting excuses. We will continue our lives, they resolved. Grandmother sat in chains. The system was tailored to aesthetes. Light upon aluminum. Its glint as far as days.
Most sharp things end with a point. She experienced cravings of nine: nine shoes, nine pens, nine pencil points, nine men who believe it is okay to sit with their feet wide apart.
One night, she performed the dance of the courtesans. They came up and handed her bits of ginger candy, asked her to interpret the tattoos on their arms. She twisted her wrist and span until she did not know who she was.
They did not know how to tear their collars. She left them without a country to weep in.
Adeeba Shahid Talukder is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing. She translates Urdu and Persian poetry, and seeks to recreate the Urdu and Persian poetic universe in her own work in English. Her poetry and translations have appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Consequence Magazine, PBS Frontline, and The Huffington Post. Adeeba lives in Brooklyn, New York.