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by Mehnaz Sahibzada

She drinks her tea with kidneys,

            liver, and spleen.

Some days I mistake her for a

            hungry wolfdog. A

wound forms the day she speaks

            with her claws. 


It is twelve minutes past sunrise,

            and soon the heat

will twist into an arrow that

            pierces my heart.

She breaks my skull with her

            easy, furtive glances,


drinks me for breakfast before

            I can speak.  Her

tongue is lined with blades, and

            her bites, just like 

her nature, uncouth.  I fold

            my anger into


a butterfly, but she calls it a

            parasite.  I sift

the sugar with calm hands,

            but she tears at

my flesh.  And in a city that waits

            a long plane ride


away, sits a man who sometimes

            kisses, sometimes

curses, my picture.  I remember

            the car ride through

Lahore that changed everything.

            I spoke like an


infidel in a mosque, and he

            called me an

Amreekan, a disloyal

            westerner, with

my piles of radical books.  I

            loved novels with


strange titles, but his fangs grew

            whiter just like

hers.  Now when I think back to

            the years that

first divided us, I see my head

            getting slammed.


I am guilty of chanting in

            the forest.  I

have wailed like a cub after

            howling my

secrets to a tree.  I almost

            kissed a


grasshopper once by a river

            because he

had kind eyes.  Solitude is less

            a swamp and

more a cloud where tempers

            gently flare. 


How does a baby balloon into

            a wolf so fierce

it fails to hear its own whining?

            She drinks

her tea with kidneys, liver,

            and spleen. 


I confess all my fears

            to a thorny

rose, and the rose blooms

            into a wasp,

which stings my wrist with

            such wrath

I suddenly see that the

            only way

it knows how to cope

            with what it’s

feeling, is to break someone’s skin

            without asking.

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Mehnaz Sahibzada is a 2022 Jack Hazard Fellow in fiction writing. Her writing has appeared in Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen, Jaggery, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. Her poetry collection, My Gothic Romance, was published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press. She is currently at work on her first novel, Jaani, set in post-partition Pakistan. For inquiries, contact Mehnaz through her website at

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