An artifice, I lack
body armor. This is not new news.
Consider how even the dinner table can be
disassembled, taken to pieces and divested of meaning. An
effigy, I envy everything, like hand-me down wood,
fringed with two families of fingerprints,
granules of sugar dust. The
history of an object makes the object
itself, says the victim. Memory, like
jūjutsu, should be a gentle skill. What
kills me isn’t the fact but how I store it in my
ligaments. Becoming, what my mother calls, a
monolith of pain. Doctors and lovers
note my buried aches, their unmoving
oaken charm. The victim
prays and my knees begin to
quiver. Once this was a punchline and not a
resurrection. Like memory,
survivors continue to
tremble even in death.
Underneath the showerhead, I learn as the
victim, to outlive myself. To no longer
whimper, wound, or wonder the what-if.
Exonerated by none, I shed the self where I am
young and wine naked,
zealous. Made of pure shelled bone.
A. Shaikh is a queer immigrant poet raised in the heat of Texas. They are the 2021 winner of The Boiler Prize and MAYDAY Poetry Prize. They are currently pursuing their MFA in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program. You can find their poems in Underblong, EX/POST and elsewhere. When not online, A. is daydreaming and/or giving their beautiful partner a kiss.