Early Girlhood

For years, I walked the moderate path

that curbed at the end of the lit

doorway where my mother always stood

waiting. Each time the strangers

knocked, I covered my hair

or hardened my face until

I became another door behind

the door. A good muslim girl,

I slumped my breasts. I never had

sex. Instead, one evening, I slid

in a white tub. I fingered the little pool

in my bellybutton and drew the lick of

it down my labia opening

its winged cave. My mother,

who found me through a slit

in the door, said, ​you come from dirt.

Later, I hid as I did this. We hid

in a green hood on a rooftop

the night he planked me down on

the wooden table, hunkered over

and breathed ​dog.

All I wanted, then, was to swill

into the umbra of his body

the way I swept under the tub water

that evening and lay there

for longer than I could.




Hera Naguib lives and teaches in Lahore, Pakistan. Her poems have appeared in online or print journals, such as, World Literature Today, Prairie Schooner, Spillway, Beloit Poetry Journal, among others. She is also the lead poetry editor of the literary magazine, Papercuts by Desi Writers Lounge, a cultural not-for-profit organization committed to nurturing literary arts from South Asia.