This is our street, people in their Sunday best trickle out of
church, their hair, coiffed, their skins, flawless, our car
parked in the church parking lot. Our Chinese neighbour converses
in Mandarin with his wife while waiting for the bus.
The city commutes in graceful lines, but I, with a little life
cradled in my arms, stand in the window,
in my yellow wallpapered room which smells vaguely
of baby oil and disinfectant; the noonday
tea rests on my dresser– my mum-in-law boasts of superior,
painkiller-free labours in the kitchen, the house reeks
of subcontinental spices, a Pakistani island in the middle of Europe,
someone has brought over a fruit basket;
Jasmine tea is passed around, peppered with muted laughter,
and free-flowing conversation; gifts are collected, sorted and stored,
mangoes, papayas, plums are served on bone china platters.
A distant aunt offers me spoonfuls of honey and fenugreek,
for the milk she says, in my ear, for the milk,
In the distance, a seagull crashes into a glass window,
and torpedoes to the ground, its white wings, crumpling.
Rakhshan Rizwan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and then moved to Germany where she studied Literature and New Media. She is currently a PhD candidate at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Papercuts, Cerebration, Muse India, The Missing Slate, Blue Lyra Review, Postcolonial Text, Yellow Chair Review and The Ofi Press. She is the winner of the Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize.