Seema Reza

I can’t sleep

Last night the yellow teacup cracked clean in half while I washed it
& when I went out on the balcony to smoke a cigarette

the handle of the sliding door came off into my palm. My phone screen
is cracked & my favorite rings won’t stay round.  

In the bedroom you lay prone, parted lips twitching into an almost-smile
your eyes rocking gently beneath their lids, long arms reaching

toward my emptied space. It isn’t that I don’t love you just
things fall apart in my well-meaning hands.

Muslim Community Center

             stiff doc martens billowing silk salwar kamiz
             hemp bracelets brown eyes rimmed covergirl black
             soft-cheeks vixen lips cleavage cleft and long necks
             our shameless laughter and foreign whispers

our mothers watch
envious & ashamed
our bodies like theirs & alien
they block our periphery with headscarves
& teach us to move shoulder to shoulder:

bending at the waist, hands flying
to thighs, alongside ears, crossing the heart,
index finger stabbing the devil  
spines curled over femur bones
forehead to prayer hall carpet
face right then left to greet angels
in unison

led by the hungry men
whose desires we must somehow
learn to manage from behind

Amma, what do women want?

Seema Reza is the author of When the World Breaks Open (Red Hen Press, 2016). Her second book, a collection of poetry, is forthcoming in 2019 from Write Bloody. An alumnus of Goddard College and VONA, her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, The Beltway Quarterly, The Feminist Wire, HerKind, Duende, The Offing, and Entropy, among others. She coordinates and facilitates a unique hospital arts program and posts weekly writing prompts at