issue 31 poetry

Those that announce their departure as a probable return

by Javeria Hasnain

leaf pile, exhibit B by Katie Whatley

Those that announce their departure as a probable return

My family is full of these kinds of people. Baba,
going for his evening walks, says, I’m coming

back. We all linger at the doorway a little longer
than is customary—unyielding, convinced that,

somehow, we will snatch our dead back from God.
The next day after he died, I dreamt of my khala’s

husband coming back, as if from a sabbatical.
I told her she could think of joining a support group

for women without children whose husbands have
died. What a cruel thing to have to say to your kin.

I thought, with enough experience, we would become
experts in grief. But really, we are only getting worse.

These past years have taught me even death can be
contagious, not just laughter. If I imagine myself

elsewhere, maybe I’ll remain alive. I wonder at myself
to prolong life despite knowing what it holds for me:

three books of verse, a china vase within which sits
all my grief, a broken teal typewriter, all beckoning.

Javeria Hasnain is a poet from Karachi, Pakistan. She is a Fulbright scholar pursuing her MFA in Poetry at The New School. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, The Margins, beestung, and elsewhere. She works at Cave Canem and reads poetry for The Adroit Journal. 

Katie Whatley is a Queer artist born and raised in South Florida. She is pursuing a Painting and Drawing minor in addition to her Bachelor’s in Political Science at Louisiana State University. She currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA, where she enjoys LSU Tigers football. Her work has been featured in publications such as 805 Lit + Art and Sink Hollow.