Literary Magazine

gritty re/booted by my own | Zoha Khan

I stand in the field beyond that Rumi

talked about, and choke on

my tears; it’s over-run by the haram police,

razed to the ground by their rhetoric.

Today, Shams and Rumi would be thrown

into jail. They tell me

to pick one.

To be queer or to be

Muslim: that is my verdict. They stone me with their rosary

beads; I am a breasted stone-faced Iblis and this is holy,

this is worship, this is Hajj.


I stand alone; her hand is my safe space but

it is bound in mehndi now; they think marriage

will cure her, pill of red and gold

shoved down her throat.

As though love is a disease. Of course,

it’s the man who’s a savior.

The horror of two girls

together; Snow White might as well have swine

flu. Only the injection the Prince carries

in his pants will heal her of this impurity.

My potty-mouthed princess has been

beaten into heterosexuality.

Jasmine is carried away in a dholi and Esmeralda

can only watch.

I sit in Rumi’s field with

God next to me and we both wait

for you to run back home

to us.

Zoha is busy being all the things Pakistan reckons are impossible or illegal to be. Poetry, jewelry, ice cream and lists help keep her anxiety under control and make her happy. Currently studying for her A-Levels, she’s trying to make sure no kid is as shaped by abuse as she is. She is a contributor at Feminism In India; her work has been published by Thought Catalog and Rising Phoenix Press, and is forthcoming in the Shade Journal.