Yallah habibti, move your tongue like the sea
easy. My big sister teaches me to ululate, rolls
her tongue in waves. Dips thin fingers inside
my mouth to pull out mine, stretches it long
and pinches the tip. Watch, we move tongues
like this. I see the walls of our father’s house
collapse and we swim free leleleleleleleleleee
On the ferry to Tangier I shriek across the sea.
Practice how to sound like a real woman. Old
aunties grab my buttocks, smush their breasts
against my back and sing leleleleleleleleleleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Don’t cover your mouth habibti! Only women
on the upper deck, only sea. We move tongues
like this to tell the waves stay back, tell men
stay back, tell the dead stay gone, tell runaway
wives stay gone. They turn me into wisteria
woman, limbs wrapped around poles and thighs
as they guide me. Throw back your head, epiglottis
to the breeze. Salt air burns my hot membranes,
scratches at the tight knots of my chords.
All my life I was told
women must swallow sand
unless we are sounding
Copyright © 2018 by Seema Yasmin. This poem originally appeared in Foundry. Used with permission of the poet.
Her temple smeared across my walls,
I bowed beneath her stream.
Two arcs of piss & bloody vomit
shot inside the MRI machine.
The half-moon rolled back and she
emerged beneath me. My: too much
brown, too much blush, too many
lashes to heal, rattled loose in a split
mouth like crack rocks. She spewed
a bloody history: my people, her father,
some agony at the West Midlands Area
Conservative Society. When she groaned
Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack,
I tempered the pain—oxycodone
for one, high grade the other, ditched
my beeper in her cradle. Switched scrubs
for straps & animal skins in the back seat
of an Audi TT. I saged my hair with a blunt.
Danced away her ruin beneath a black
Copyright © Seema Yasmin. This poem originally appeared in Breakwater Review, issue 20. Used with permission of the poet.