ghazal for fear

by Nadia Mota

what’s the name for a fear of death that’s not your own? my father goes to the back door
and grabs for his keys, but i reach them first. i drive him where he wants to go in fear

of police cars, in fear of my father’s fear of police cars, even though he’d never tell me
that his body rejects the sound of sirens like a foreign organ, that the human body fears

out of instinct what may harm it. once, he sat in the passenger’s seat and a cop asked for
his ID first. once i heard that cuban citizens can be charged for “dangerousness,” for fear

that they would possibly commit a crime. “preventative measures.” sometimes existence
can feel like resisting an arrest. sometimes the worst crimes are legal, and our fear

lies bloody on the pavement. my father’s eyes shift to the rearview mirror. be cautious,
he tells me. he can’t afford not to be. we drive with our ears ringing. deafening, his fear.


back to University & College Poetry Prizes