Poetry By Naush Sabah
By Naush Sabah
“How am I meant to say bye?” he asks.
“Nicely.” I tell him.
He would push me off the cliff edge,
and never peer over.
I prefer the glance back,
as we both walk away;
I log in and log out,
log in and log out.
All the other words I’ve deleted,
all the other memories persist or fade,
but I keep our goodbye,
my eyes scan it over again
It could be every conversation:
my endless words,
his fragmentary phrases,
his, “nothing more I can say”.
Abundance meeting scarcity,
neither able to diminish
nor multiply the other.
If I type something more,
it will prolong our congress,
but I’ve said everything,
and there is nothing more I can say.
My fingers hover and swipe,
In the end, we settled with “goodbye”,
even to that I appended his name,
uttered like a declaration of love every time,
a statement of longing,
He said my name like a caress once, long ago.
This time, it never once passed his lips,
not even in goodbye.
Sandpaper walls scraped slimed at speed by phlegm.
The racking expulsion doesn’t disturb you.
Your breathing maintains its sleepy rhythm,
but your daughter sleeps with waking ears;
her limbs work and murmurs escape move her lips.
The blurry blink of the clock says 03:27.
I extend one arm toward her, gently pat and shush.
Cycling legs and flailing arms resist all soothing,
her murmurs turn to cries, to screams and still
your breathing maintains its sleepy rhythm.
I sit up to face her and lift her up to my lips,
kissing, and shushing and offering my breast,
rocking and stroking and lulling with whispers.
She stiffens and stretches away from my flesh,
the screaming sears stings my ears no less than your breathing.
We’re up now, pacing and walking and wondering,
I avoid the rocking and swinging light of the clock.
She calms and quietens to tiny sniffs and sighs and
we slide back into place where I attempt the slowest
settling. But as soon as I remove my touch, she knows.
The endless rhythm of patting is its own lullaby,
Pat-pat, pat-pat, domph-domph, pounding out onto her back,
but her crying, panic-pitched, defies any metre, or pause.
I press down her head and domph-domph until your breathing
can’t be heard over the beating of my hands and my heart.
I gently turn her head to the side and smooth the blanket
and her hair carefully away from her silent, sleeping face.
I lie down heavy and breathe close to her cold nose.
The clock blinks out of time with your breathing.
My eyes stick and my cough clamours around the room.
Clusters of yesterday’s crumpled clothes yowl
as the room radiates fumous remnants of food.
I view the tableau with a tired Tracey Emin scowl,
another new installation from my avant-garde brood.
I enter the cold kitchen and collect dirty dishes,
letting water in the sink run to waste as it warms,
then lift the sponge from foam in a familiar tradition,
to wash in mechanical motions, taking comfort in daily norms.
They rupture order with invented patterns of innovation
making me locate totem toys and consecrated clothes from
new places, again and again, navigating the latest crises of being.
The quotidian chaos through our space is the sum of my creation.
Alongside the paraphernalia of childhood are their perfect faces,
in each trinket I trip over or toss, their new forms are what I’m seeing.
Naush Sabah is a British Kashmiri poet and educator based in Birmingham (UK). She is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing and working on her first collection, "Things I Can't Say", which explores themes of dissent and doubt.
Artwork by Brian J. Alvarado