Three Poems by Neiha Lasharie

love love love
After “This Sky,” a poem from Hafez’s The Gift

Hafez said           this         Sky           where we live               is no place to lose your wings
he never warned against the highwaymen thieves           liars old white men young brown boys

who would see the feminine sinew of your wings and snip              so precise as to mutilate

Hafez never warned me              this violence could come with kisses and praise                that my
womanhood        plundered        was worth more than my womanhood                 in flight

but the Persian masters masked a tenderness for this earthhearth

Hafez never said I couldn’t love on this earth        on all fours my tail between my legs
Hafez never said I couldn’t tear the world asunder             bring sky down to my level
raise the earth up to sky
raise the earth up to god who bade me go to china            kiss my sliver of light to him in thanks

and here I am                  this tempest         this atlas             holding skyearthfire       counting stars like a
tasbeeh              against the skynazar

Hafez, what of the sky?                 without a place to lose our wings
where would woman have learnt to walk?

moon bhar ke

there is so much i haven’t fit into my mouth // sap dripping glacier soft against tree bark //
the exact chord of the mug where i left my last lipstick stain

i want to touch the sun to the tip of my tongue // but my mouth is too small for a second lisp //
and my throat too hostile to swallow the sun whole

there are so many clouds i wish i could eat // candy floss bursting into condensation //
my taste buds remember a taste like this but i have forgotten

incidentally i thought god was all cloud // i envisioned Him creating me // a wisp of His breath //
sometimes when i breathe dragon ice in november chill i can feel god

my tongue wilts with the taste of loss // ever meal i don’t savor is a meal lost //
to words comments sidelong looks

hungry as anything // hungering // chessboard pieces bright chartreuse board game parts //
if i hold a grape in my mouth long enough it tastes like color

going to museums is a dangerous game // salivating at impressionists i wonder if i left a
fingerprint would they find me // but i swear if you let me touch it once //

if you let me taste the l-apis in the bl-ues i’ll never go hungry again // when i dream in urdu i can
taste her // cool on my tongue cool in my throat

urdu tastes like the moon looks // the moon tastes like love // ghehri raat mein //
baarish chaandni aansoon ki tarhan barasti hai

ye chaandni raat mein // ye chaand ka tukra // khuda ka khauf kar ke // maafi mang ke // iss
chaand ko jaamun ki tarhan aasmaan se chun chun ke moon mein daal daal ke

moon bhar ke khaoan gi // each night after // i will pick moondust from between my teeth //
feel the velvet of moon crumbs on my tongue // i will know how to heal the whole world

three footnotes from my interpretation of sykes-picot

1. i am 23 and i miss mamma with all of my bones
the borders i have drawn are made with blood
some blood more water than other blood
at some point i pulled the spine from my back
drew a line in the sand and kissed the earth in sajda

2. at 4 the sea tried to swallow me               i had leapt into it with such longing and it longed for me
but some longings are more water than other longings
and the salt in my nose in my lungs burned                i wake up some mornings and
there are welts on my skin             like a cage tried to swaddle and feed me

3. i speak some tongues                  not all of them well
and have found some tongues to be more water than others
but with all my tongues the wounds i have licked have never been mine
and asylum is not a kind word in any language
but some kindnesses are emptier than other kindnesses
and some water is only salt and sand

Neiha Lasharie is a Pakistani Muslim woman living in Boston. She studies public international law at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Some of Neiha’s previous publications can be found at Blacklist Literary Journal, Moonchild Magazine, and Spectrum Literary Magazine. She was shortlisted for the Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize. You can find her on Twitter (@neihalash) or at her website,