I was born in the first century of guilt.
Between shattered church bells, we played
in a cemetery of wishbone homes. Ghosts had no
middle names. Every night I curled
on a bench with the moan of a cast iron stove.
In November meatless heads of cabbage
churned through the kitchen, chatter
of chickens before the axe guillotined
the fogged glass. I counted the pulse, the pulse
of termites between floorboards. Memorized
the wall cracks like borders drawn by clouds.
When the house flooded with the river’s excess —
tired of drawing borders — my parents drowned
their wool coats in the Rhine. Mold bloomed
in the moist crevices between our eyelashes.
Flying over the Atlantic, water swallowed
the scent of home—rust and cinnamon.
The itinerary was stamped in our palms at birth.
Photo Courtesy of Humayunn N. A. Peerzaada