National Poetry Month Day 18: Tarfia Faizullah



A kind of perfection,

each singular flicker

of fireflies left untrapped

by jars, how they don’t crowd

each other’s shine

among trees left unsawed,

each leaf a stemmed mouth

drinking from

the creek that divides & mends

the earth to and from itself,

where shrub,

shadow, spider, all thrive

on blades of grass so thin

the wind flattens

their swaying dances into horizon

that the tomato vine

inscribes itself

into, each grown from seeds

barely the size of irises

of the eyes

of humans who plant them:

humans who climb up

ladders and fall

from them, who pause

to shake out gravel

from their shoes,

who eat from fine china

or trays or bags

of Cool Ranch Doritos,

or barefoot at twilight,

tomato in hand, red

seeds swarming

my chin. I knew you then,

Lord, standing alone

but not lonely

below your sky stabbed

by the vast perpetual

yearning of disciples

and stars that are born

and burn out close

enough to sing to

but not touch. I watched

the fireflies do what

they do, what I’ve

been fighting to do—

no matter what color

I am, what shape,

no matter if my people

break bread or each other—

to glimmer flawlessly

in the dark, to spin higher

when it all tornadoes

downward, the wind,

this wind, let me be wind,

let me keep asking

what’s up, what’s up,

O Lord, what on earth is up?

–Tarfia Faizullah


Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing, and her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, as well as the Drake Emerging Writer Award. Faizullah’s honors and awards include an Associated Writers Program Intro Journals Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, a Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Margaret Bridgman Scholarship in Poetry. A Kundiman fellow, she lives in Detroit and is an editor for the Asian American Literary Review and Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Series.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →