there are less than five true synonyms for the word 'body' in english
and let me tell you none of them work for me
this is no body this is my wind
this is my movement through space and
time this is my poor attempt at keeping
everything together i love
my wife’s ocean i swim in it it keeps me
warm at night it surrounds me my grandmother
circumlocates the pain in her gai
to me in the old tongue so i can explain it to the doctor
no not gaia but i see how you could make that mistake
if you don’t know our tongue we call a tongue
tziba no no not zebra try again tziba
come on is english really the only language you speak?
you only have one word for ‘sky’?
only three for ‘mercy’? how do you talk
about anything? it rains grandma on the phone says
the breath weeps today no no i don’t
mean breath but how else am i to tell you?
I reach for home
across two continents,
my wrists the rivers
Mississippi and Jamuna,
my mouth the Bengal
Bay, body of water,
large as the country
it was named after,
my heart, half Atlantic
half Indian, slow
draining into tributaries,
my hands wanting so badly
to bridge home
How does a single cell
become the full body?
How do the catfish
and the ilish both know
to swim upstream?
My two-tongued mouth:
one always asking
Nishat Ahmed is a Bangladeshi-American residing in the Midwest. He's the author of two chapbooks, lead singer of Ocean Glass, & avid lover of Fall Out Boy.