This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2019

Poem in Which Ahad Appears

Shazia Hafiz Ramji

The house behind mine caught fire   I saw petal scrap
ashes floating down first and thought   it was a wild fire
thickening the sky like the last summer   I was on a bench
with a boy I didn’t want to date   couldn’t say no
because he had a body   I had the time it takes to get
clean from one habit and forget   we had a four-dollar bag of ice
between us    a walk to the lake where we sunk in the damp
grass and coughed heartily as if the veiled yolk of a sun
was our season   I heard there was an old lady who lived
in the house that caught fire   I heard this after
I told my landlord about the fire   I said   the alley kept us safe
kept us separate   from the fire   that did not have tongues
that was not licking   but was a whole body rolling
o the roof   sparing the quiet house its shell
of a shiny yawn   fossil in a place already
steaming with whisper   dripping  like that memory I have
of my dad telling me about his good friend whose name
was Ahad   the one   who set himself on flames   the one
who walked o a pier into the water   I can’t remember
bechara Ahad   poor Ahad   whether he died by   water
or re what does it matter?   I had to spit to speak
when I called the re ghters the throat suddenly like clay
its wetness closing  drawn out by smoke.


Shazia Hafiz Ramji is the author of Port of Being, a finalist for the 2019 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Her writing has recently appeared in Poetry Northwest, Music & Literature, and Canadian Literature. She is at work on a novel.

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