POETRY | When I Am Filled With Anxiety

By Areeba Ahmed

Staff Writer


That I appear an abandoned island reeking of one-eyed misery,

That even the surrounding tides disperse and quiver

At the unseemly prospect of touching me

That I appear a two-headed clay-thing of gnarled intentions and gnashing teeth

Before whom even the fiendish North Wind begins to shiver

And the most dauntless of stars recede

And when I behold, in Heaven’s tattooed eyes

Blinking dudgeons of a reluctant audience

For whom I may never live to beautify

This Otherness into some sage performance,

Or reel from my innermost recesses these sunken visions

Of gauze-winged faeries and far-flung nymphs

Who swim at ease, free of that indecision

That cripples my thoughts ‘til, like Zagreus, they stagger and sway in misshapen limps

And when I feel my mind’s mother-tongue conceives brainchildren who babble

A language that is half-foreign to me

That my every trace is betrothed to a short-lived, sable secrecy,

And vanquished to eastern quick-sands that swallow themselves into mediocrity,

Where impaled griffins whisper to impassive ruins a stillborn prophecy

That no wand of sunlight on knolls of desert-floors conjures for me

The golden halo of a halcyon

That no sphinx shall ever deem me fit for highfalutin riddling

That my words are more presumptuous than ancient Babylon

That no merman shall ask to weave my hair with fingers gently fiddling

sphynx, sphinx, egypt, world, monument

And when I fear I may never scope the seven seas from atop a crow’s nest,

That I am but a ship rat, racing through the pipe dreams of an un-wild west

And that for every urge freed by pen, two more remain hostage and penned in my chest,

Then, I rouse myself to my flattened feet,

That I may make from strife, something sweet.

For, I vow to change this life yet.

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