A poem by someone who always left. by Sania Mushtaq

1) I still have to learn how to love without staining my hands from the blood of the people I loved, scarred from the broken edges of my skin. Smile. Until your cheekbones get stuck in your own lies. Smile. Until your lips curve on their own with every sorry. Smile.

2) It’s been sixteen years since my parents married and my mother is still making space for my father’s habits. Shrinking herself so that his voice can occupy more room. Throwing off her pieces to fix his mistakes into her ribs, making amends with his fist and the angry syllables, which roll down his tongue.

3) I’m my father’s clone and my mother’s failed lesson in history. My fingers picked my father’s tendency of running. Run. Before they know you aren’t healing. Run. Before they realize you never intended to stay. Run. Before they realize you never were worth loving.

4) I’m sitting next to him in an empty room and spoke twice each time. Each sentence began with the words “sorry for interrupting,” we were alone though. And he laughs and keeps his giant hands on mine and says your mother taught you well and I clench my wine glass praying I won’t break it.

5) My mother wears her engagement ring like ropes tying her to a monster she once loved and my father still isn’t sure if he ever loved her.

6) I’ve spent my entire existence loving boys with mouths like oceans, tasting sea water with every kiss while they mistook my hands for band-aids, expecting them to heal their wounds but my fingers have only learnt to cut through the people I love the most.

7) I notice how my mother’s heart drops to her stomach, clogging her voice in her throat whenever she speaks about love and I can’t help but wonder if I too will fall in love with a man who kisses and kills me at the same time.

8) My father always talks in screams and my mother always responds in tears. Cacophony ringing in her ears like the ghost from the night she said yes to his proposal but regret always tastes bitter and she isn’t good at confessing.

9) Boys search for hand-me-down hearts between my broken ribs, extending their hands like a ladder to take out what’s left of me and I never seem to stop them. I warn them my ribs are made of leftover chalk and my heart is already burned in ashes. They still search and find nothing.



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