I tuck astray hair behind my ear without irritation, slant over the child with a smile the world hasn't seen, look the year in the eye before it stares back. I smile so my sabris documented - my attendance, a matter of record.
I feel my Pulse with a wrist half a world away, hush Aleppo with my finger pressed to the parted lips of tear gas. I taste ash and tell myself it is not children bones.
I resist the urge to pray. Send thoughts with guilt. Come up for air only to wish to have lost the ability to.
In this dream, I remember the poem.
The one this soil once trembled underneath of. My pregnant mother's feet hurt with my added weight; she always knew this world was not one for a heart like mine. She didn't hear my heartbeat until I was breach
at birth. Somewhere in Kashmir, the valleys shake under a new mother's footsteps. The Himalayas tremble with a baby's fear. Somewhere between my smile and the pellets holding their breath in the hills, a mother prays.
Perhaps, the dream can be a dream in her baby's head.
Perhaps, the nightmare can be called what it is.
Perhaps, the smile stings -- the crying finally stops.
Orooj-e-Zafar is a storyteller/spoken word poet whose work has been widely published online in places such as Quail Bell Magazine, Off the Coast, Rufous City Review and Melancholy Hyperbole. Offline, Orooj performs at local and national events like TEDx PIEAS and Islamabad Literature Festival 2017. She was also the recipient of the second annual Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize and the winner of Where Are You Press Manuscript Contest 2016. Her debut chapbook HOME AND OTHER DEBRIS was published in 2017.