On being unmarried (still) By Maham Khan

Artwork by Aneesa Kaleem on Instagram


Through a car window, you see yourself dabbing lipstick

with your finger. You keep getting asked how you got so unlucky.

You’re a curtain they long to pull aside, revealing

perhaps – a dark well, a ruined room, an empty chair.

They wish you were an upturned palm, so they could

examine the frayed lines.

On being anything at all, but a body that

isn’t a cavity, a space. An indentation. Half-becoming,

half-rousing, always, always, on the verge. Did you remember

to pluck your three silver hairs? You flicker like an old image,

a golden beetle on its back. Someday, you’ll tell the

story of how you met yourself on the sidewalk at midnight,

rummaging in your purse for a light. They’ll be like

like the swaying grass behind you, a sea of soft murmurs.

So you’ll go home and count the books on your bedside.

You’ll smile alone, with your little secret. Snap the spine of

expectations in half.  You keep getting asked

how you got so unlucky.



Name: Maham Khan

Social media: @verymuchapoet on Instagram

Bio: I am a poet and a teacher living in Islamabad. My poems can be found in The Missing Slate, Jaggery Lit, The Aleph Review, and Somewhere in Pakistan, among other places.

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