by Maham Khan
mulberry tree, now cut down,
my mother parted the branches and found
bits of black string tied to them,
wrapped around little pieces of paper.
it was her second and last marriage
and it was already falling apart,
six months in,
five months pregnant.
she unraveled the thread and had
the tree cut down. she believed in many
omens and she was often right.
a piece of string (to her) could
bind hearts and hold tongues.
the right spell could kill you.
the tree cast an afternoon shadow
that made my mother think
of the black eyes of crows, the running
water in the dark.
she was tossing in a sea at
the middle of an echo all her own,
flapping her giant wings, in a bleak
windless room that was her home.
so she prayed fervently with her
Qur’an. she nursed her first born, my sister,
and planted aloe plants and rose bushes. the front
bedroom was flooded with sunlight, the
mulberry tree now a stump for fakirs
to sit on. I grew older and mourned
our treeless front yard, no swing
to loop around its branches,
no shade for July afternoons.
Maham Khan is a twenty-something Pakistani girl from Islamabad. Her poems have been published in Cadaverine Magazine, Innisfree Poetry Journal and The Maya Tree Liberal Arts Review. She is studying English literature.
Image credit: © 2017 | Museerah Nisar