Zohra Zafar

is an aspiring poet from South Asia whose favorite pastimes include reading Tolstoy and drawing inspiration from her lived experiences in Pakistan. She is currently doing her A levels in Literature, and when she’s not writing poetry on the notes app of an iPhone, she can be found voicing her leftist politics on social media platforms.

I Lost A Tongue To Domestic Warfare

On the eastern front, somewhere next to a stove
when a bullet in the form of a plastic bottle
went flying past me. Maybe it’s still lying there where I left it,
unspoken words lingering like a trail of blood, seeping into
the lint or maybe it was lost like many parts are, only cogs in
a great machine- call it collateral damage, no great loss.

If you skip two steps at a time, you’ll escape your father
running down three flights of stairs and maybe you’ll block
that air raid with one arm raised to defend your face. I’ve lived in
pockets of reality like a refrigerator box cut open and pillows placed
inside to form a little safe house- call it trench warfare, no great loss.
She becomes Renoir’s hidden girl in the bottom left corner of a painting,
hiding in the bathroom with the laptop or the door locked,
there’s a Mussolini threatening to tear it down or crush it like a revolution
without much teeth. If and only if you’d tip toe on the balls of your feet,
maybe you’d escape unnoticed, undo the lock and run.

Don’t you ask about my day when I’ve already lost my tongue.

There are things I wish to say, only to be overpowered by the
thunderous sounds of diplomatic men. She slips away again,
out through a window onto a ledge with flower pots full of
objects in the peripheral vision, only barely existing.