How We Begin

Tell me again about the bloodhound
that chases you
into lark black sky.
Dar es Salaam in the 70s is the heart
of a Nandi flame
shrouded by the woodland smoke
of your silence.
I’m sorry.
I know this story bleeds and the scent
of it stirs awake the meteoric dark—
the haul
of carrying violence
from one generation to another.
Tell me again about the wound
that is my wound,
the blood that crossed an ocean
to become the beads
of the tasbih I hold in my hands.
Tell me again about the first slur
you heard,
English snapping at heels
still yoked to another country,
and how kutchi vanished like wild
deer into the ash.
I tear apart my body for an answer
to where I began.
I am a beast
subdued only by your voice.
So tell me again
about the faces that fled the wind
and I will apologise.

Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet living in Scotland, where she is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. She was the winner of the 2018 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest in poetry, and her work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Tupelo Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, Poetry Book Society, and Best New British and Irish Poets 2018. Alycia received an MFA from the University of Oregon.