Iman MonnooAugust 3, 2022Who Am I?Poetry

Artwork by Kyra Dange

dear Mama,
    i saw the date on the calendar last night and broke
down on the kitchen floor

pulled out my old journal and leafed through the watery
    ink stains, a vast and complicated shrine dedicated to birthday tragedy,
blue gatorade on the subway, holding a girl’s hand for the first time —

    the writing was finer there; i had switched pens by age 13, i think,
exchanged fat coiled nibs for bronze needles that embroidered tapestries onto my arms

and never bled through the translucent pages of drugstore notebooks.     the kiss came soon after that, breathless and awkward, brains
no more accustomed to sensation than hearts, and no more experienced.
    cracked lips against one another, and still baring the acrid taste of cheap lip gloss we stole from the upstairs bedroom.

    we were ghosts then,
shadowed by the lilac string lights hung above the pool
    and drunk on our own stupidity.

you hated the difference, didn’t you?
    resented the swelling of breasts, the sharpening of cheekbones, the scrape of tongue against
    white teeth, washed out with new diction and vowels that rotted your ears and groped your patience with its vulgarity.

    you expected the normal — the dresses with loose ruffles that hung at the thigh, the deep voice hushed on the other side of the phone —

    not the clicking of bones against one another as i stood before you, shaking on the prayer mat, and breathed life into lovers from my imagination,

    pink at the ears with silken hair down to their toes.

i have blocked out your response except for one word,
   syphoned that too into syllables i could count
as they writhed and stretched to break the silence of the room.

a dissection, then, as you watched me break into worthless parts —
    the mouth gasping, black and agape, the chest contracting with lack of air, the filed fingernails chewed and spat out in wet garnish.
    i had collapsed the galaxy upon us both and left us drowning in

the guilt of it all.
    but yesterday, i cleaned myself off the tiled floors,
soaked up the liquids that escaped from my body and hung them out to dry
    with the laundry.
when the moonrise began, i lay next to someone lovely and came back to myself

Iman Monnoo is a 16-year-old in 11th grade at Lahore Grammar School Defence in Pakistan. Aside from reading and writing, she also has an affinity for public speaking and drama!