Nani holds down the bird, tensile bone & clipped
wings, after spreading her hands like a blind ascetic
cooing in a mocking chicken voice to soothe & raise
up the animal, the way cold breath lifts a small cloud.
Circumnavigating her hands around the ligneous neck,
muscular fingers grazing soft—a fish line along the water—
the plume of the bird, comforting the moon-shaped eye.
Hands that had enveloped mine, folding dough, secret as
making fascicles to hide in the drawer she keeps her white
dresses & the false breast that I once touched mistaking
it for real flesh, as Nani rushed in, the whip of her three-pronged
braid hanging like a war medallion grown after chemo. She takes
the bird & cracks the neck with her knife. Calm as separating flesh
from the pit of a peach. She hands me the feet, the yellow cells,
wrapped in the pattern of a honeycomb. I am dumbstruck, a trinity
of nails lays in my palms. A woman who grew my mother inside
could end a life, just as tender. A nebula of starlings swarm
around & a cool reef of mountain air rises among the trees.
–Jai Hamid Bashir
Jai Hamid Bashir is a Pakistani-American teacher, creator and writer based out of Salt Lake City. You can find more of her work and musings at jaihamidbashir.com.