down to the grocery store | You pick up three cans
of mead and a chocolate bar | Our boxes collide outside
on the street | We talk till the midafternoon sun rises
tomorrow and make plans to collide again | One night you
take me into your box | I take off my shirt and
you see a series of lines and codes | I am constructed
entirely out of numbers and you kiss ones and
zeroes all over my back | You turn me around
just in time to see me glitch then disappear | My last
words echo through your box -
01101001 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101
Hot shower where you just stand there as water scalds
your back, massage prickly legs with aloe vera, thick socks
with a hole in the left toe, fleecelined pants, no bra, turtleneck
shirt to hold your neck in a hug, OLevels hoody with sleeves
long enough to cover icy fingers. Window open slightly
letting in pitterpatter of raindrops and squirrel feet,
applecider scented candle with burnt wick lit, half a
teaspoon of dried sage in a teapot, hot water, that’s all.
Pour into mug in meager amounts to keep from getting
cold, wrap frozen palms around teapot, careful not to
burn yourself, nest of blankets, overlooking
rainfall from the fourth floor window.
mama tells me to pray.
I lock my room door and sit
at the edge of my bed, dupatta
loosely draped over my head. In English,
I ask god,
why can’t I remember words?
what does your face look like?
who do you pray to?
when will I believe in you?
One ear peeled for mama’s footsteps, I jump
onto the untouched jaanamaz, but
it’s only guilt talking. From downstairs, abu
calls me; I press my lips together
the way mama does and let out a gentle
hum – see ma, I’m praying –
A Field of Wildflowers
Arrange yourself in the shape of
my lover. Call me at midday,
bring ice-cream to
the lakeside. Wish for me on daisy
chains and dandelions, springtime rain glistening on
Manahil Bandukwala is an artist and writer currently living in Ottawa, where she is an editor for In/Words Magazine & Press, curating the monthly reading series. Her work has appeared in In/Words, Bywords, the Ottawa Arts Review, Existere, re:asian, the shreeking violet press, battleaxe press and the Steel Chisel, among others.