The fire swayed and dodged the men.
When they smacked at the fire, it jumped.

Michael Chitwood, "The Elements Will Have Their Way" from Issue 8

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Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems and prose appear in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, LA Review of Books, Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, she received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Project Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, and other honors.

Dhaka Nocturne

I admit that when the falling hour
begins to husk the sky free of its
saffroning light, I reach for anyone

willing to wrap his good arm tight
around me for as long as the ribboned
darkness allows. Who wants, after all

to be seen too clearly? Still, the heart
trusts, climbs back down the old
mango tree outside the bar to marvel

at the gymnast tornadoing forward,
electrifying the air with her soaring
body on the TV, even as the friend

beside me asked, But how could you
sleep in the same room as your dead
sister’s things?
Once, a man I loved

told me I was stunning. It terrified
me, the way grief still can, rising
above us in the bar, seeking its own

body. I told her the body, exhausted,
does what it must, as it does now,
suturing itself to his, saying, I’ll be

yours forever
, with all its secretive
creases turning to steam in this heat-
flustered city, wet fever of the nape

of my neck chiffoning beneath his
lips galaxying across it. I could have
told her about the shelves of porcelain-

cheeked dolls tarnished lavender by
falling light, the ebony abundance
of my mother’s hair varnished blue

as she slid my sister’s child clothes off
the old wooden hangers then back on—
but what else is mine, if not all this

strange beauty? Look, I say to him,
running my own hands down my own
body: night-rinsed anaglyph of muscle

and bone holding against everything
yet to plunder this or any twilight’s
nameless and numinous unfurling.