National Poetry Month Day 6: Tarfia Faizullah






Sometimes, it’s the fangs
that wake them, and others,

the smoke signals from the other
side of the world. Mornings,

they spit poems or toothpaste
pink with blood and try to make

grace out of danger by treading
carefully on the bridges to each

other’s mouths. I think that’s what
it takes to be a citizen, one says,

and the other nods, wishing
there were more assassins

on Law and Order. A record
player spins static and the past.

They both admire the ecstasy
of a waist in a mirror before

recalling childhood as a shirt
that never quite fits. They die

over and over again, the last time
the longest. They sit the same

way at the table where they
first tasted time: a searchlight

grazing the tremors of a pepper
shrinking in a bowl until it’s redder

and hotter than the sun powering
this planet, the densest one:

the only not named after a god.


Photograph of Tarfia Faizullah courtesy of Graywolf Press.

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf 2018) and Seam (SIU 2014). In 2016, Tarfia was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change. Tarfia is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow, and lives in Dallas, TX. Tarfia does not have a favorite color. More from this author →