Aurat
(Urdu, Arabic: عورة)
By the time the angels intervened 
the ache had long fled the fields, 

irretrievable by then,
and what it took from me was gone. 

There were no letters left 
to taste in the chosen language of God

and only english was left to me, 
only english absolved me 

of what was coaxed from my lap
while I looked 

away and through the window open
like an eye over the bed.

Desire made a door of me
and I kept it ajar.   

In my mother’s house I revert to her 
body’s bloom. In her language 

a woman is what she shrouds, skin paling
under cloth, a chamber of grit and two-

lipped rooms. In the language of revelation
I’m told this word is a slur, means defective

or deficient. From navel to knee it marks me  
a garden to be raked clean by a husband.

Vulnerable is a body beneath 
a body beneath a shared gray sheet. 

It was April, evening, 
one star glinting in the maw. 

I lay still.
I didn’t bleed.
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