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By Amaan Hyder

you pick it up as you go / memorise the incidents someone says the word at home

 

at school your french teacher wears a canary-yellow shirt / too bright? he asks the class / you nod / he puts on his jacket

 

your uncle had a mustache that covered his lips / he lived by himself in london in the seventies

 

had he gone to bars? had he gone to baths? / samuel delany asks of a man he knew in his youth

 

you walk down the street of pubs of men / ready with your babble

 

the look that a man gives another man / the look that means a man’s weakness

 

you head home / unable to brave those eyes / you sit down to dinner with your parents

 

the language they speak is the language of couplet and qawwali / the language of poetic recital

 

another tenderness is possible / you want to say / the look that two men might exchange / the look that means i am going to have you

 

not hungry? your father asks / you nod / you swallow your words with love

 

in bed / when you are able to fall asleep / you dream in the language

 

you dream in the language all the time / without speaking a word of it

© 2020 harana poetry

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