With your ivory ego dripped in lager breath

By Rabia Fatima Tariq

With your ivory ego dipped in lager breath, frothing at your mouth with your feral pride, you come at me.

Doom me to be open and ravaged where the shards of your broken anger bludgeon my head.

Your untamed glee, wild at the sight of the rubies that drip down my skin.

It is this skin, this skin that you hate. What is the story you are trying to tell on the canvas of my torn sinews as your fists leave behind red remnants of something untold?

You heave harder and your skin flushes a shade of pink. Are you trying to score something familiar upon my skin, so it will be bearable?

This skin, that is what you hate.

You take my equatorial arms, not to raise me high but to ensure that the ground slips beneath my feet.

Notes of your distaste where my back meets the concrete. To what end, though? Blood gushing through my nose, and I see a little mad twinkle of pride. Let it fall on the ground. After all, it’s in the soil where poppies have always grown, so maybe it will flower.

You do not understand the smile on my face as you try to break my skin. It is the skin you hate, isn’t it? I come from the land where the wind and breaths of Sub Saharan Goddesses have caressed my temples again and again for safety—something your knuckles cannot penetrate. So why would I not smile?

You punch harder, you stab deeper, but they are only split-second scars on a skin that has been nursed by mothers whose children you destined to death.

So, I smile because I have them in a way you never will. You rake your claws against my skin, hoping to leave a trace of your anger; but I smile, for this skin has been kissed by the monsoon.

So, leave a trace she’ll wash away for me. It is this skin you hate, but you know nothing about it, do you? Or is that why you hate it?

You hope to leave me with a nightmare today, but the memories of a cotton candy tidal wave across the sky in a majestic eastern empire will keep the ghost at bay. So, I smile.

I see you bury your knuckles deeper into my bones, washing me with your lager breath, but where my bones go last there will be Arabian jasmine and lily of the Nile like you will never know.

So, I smile.

You stand there hoping to drown my confidence with your boisterous persona and loud voices, but this skin has been cloaked in the cacophony of raging car engines and the racket of motorbikes coming from all directions. It will not shy away from your loud words, for this skin has heard its share of everything rough.

Is it the skin you hate? Is it why you must brand your notations of distaste upon it?

As I stand up again, your knuckles ready, all I can think about and say to you is, “This skin is filled with the dust and salt of lost kingdoms. Every time you come at me, I will smell like a loaded gun. So, come at me”.

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