Munira Tabassum Ahmed is a poet with work featured in Cordite,
The Lifted Brow, Australian Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

The Poet

In the final poem he addresses to me, he talks about marigolds and such.

He compares his new lover to a flower, but I was there the first time he saw a flower that he liked. It was a white lavender and he was filled with the kind of brutal boyhood that likes to break things. He snapped the stem in two, took the part he found most beautiful, and left the rest to rot in the sweet earth. Both halves died in that instant, but one was the prettiest corpse he'd ever seen.

He tells me that his hands are starting to look like his father's. The rougher man who had told him he'd get flowers when he's dead / there was no honour in being the son who lived. Men know better than to be caught with palms in bloom. Rather, they draw in full fists to soften the objects of their love. Once, he said flowers looked better bruised and I believed him. I let him practice crushing petals on my ribs until they were dyed purple and red.

Tonight, there are quiet hotel rooms and quieter men within them / waiting for flowers at their temporary doorstep.

Swallow Homecoming

The swallow returns to the garden
in which it was born.
With it, comes fresh pollen at its feet
and spring-slick southern air beneath its wings,
sparking undeniable newness in its liquid song.

The plan is to catch a couple flies along the
side of the road, before nesting
in the woodpecker cavity next to the traffic sign.
It has been a long flight.

The dive to the curb is small and holy / cutting close to the asphalt, but never grazing its feet. In the distance, a red car speeds up, tyres in full bloom / bruising the bugleweed on the new dirt road. Machine, as desperate to get home as the swallow / pushing against the damp air. Machine always stronger than animal / stronger than the turn /stronger than its rusty whir / stronger than the thud.

When a bird dies, there is no eruption.
Only the ache of popped vessels at the wound,
and the slow quiet of a final chirp.
The smatter of blood on the hood blends in
as the car drives on towards the silt horizon.

The sky splits and mourns;
the rain washing thin mud over the swallow's frail body.
It has been a long flight.

On Phoebe Bridgers' 'Garden Song'

In the better version of the nightmare,
I am older and I am eating four limes whole.
I grieve the future. And grief is the oldest rot,
but I should know that already.
I bloom too quick. The rind bunches up in my gut,
bittering the body. Here begins the slowest decay.

It is a clean night, and in this keen air
my stomach grows stems and new blossoms.
Lover weeps below me, their hands over
the full expanse of this lime rot. They tell me that the
swell's undoing itself.

In the end, I know it'll still be there—
smaller until I find the skeleton behind my
bedroom door, or the smoke cupping itself
to my back teeth when it's too tired to reach further.
I recount every organ
and try to find a place for this last one.

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