Jai Hamid Bashir: A Knife Delivers Us from Tenderness


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
December 2017

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.