Hera Naguib


From the sky he hurtled
to the cave opening, a shaft
knifed into its whorl of isolation,
               utter, utter.
Nape under neck, we jostled
in the noose of his embrace.
              Utter, utter, he demanded and
cut from me, clean and virginal, a cry.
I fled in delirium, leaping
down the mountain’s stony thigh,
until wherever I looked, he filled the sky,
his eyes bright and wild.
              Utter, utter
until the cacti rose up like words,
the dizzy beetles punctuated
thick air; until what I uttered
stirred the desert like a gilded river
running from the cave’s jagged cervix.


torn from a rain bird’s throat
on early summer mornings, from a desert
whose air of fair constancy
I breathe, afraid of thunder, graves, and
the sudden dead; afraid of
the cries of beaten children, and anger
off its leash; afraid of alleys
in darkness, each rustle a fang on the long
walk home. There are people
and things in my mind who think they were
me: the boy who taped her
breasts flat and protagonists from long summer
reads. I come from a pack
of girls who dragged a thin, limber boy across
the gravel, the pay back
to his big brother. No, I come from the crackle
under his back, the dust of stones,
from my long and white silence. I am weaned
from the season’s midriff,
the stench of the ground dank with the city’s
monsoon, from the pull
of its roots. At nights, I run like its long canal,
dried off its course, but pent up
in every native’s dream, to each of my lovers
who still teach me that love
is but a weary, nameless thing. They come
with ceremonies, wrists flamed
with marigolds, and hard hit drums then leave
at black outs from the back
streets. Sometimes, I’ll wake up in their gutters,
the choking smell of burnt
coal, diffusing four ways, four places all stuffed
in a word as small as home.


Hera Naguib is an MFA candidate in writing at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She is also the poetry editor of an academic journal, The Maya Tree: Liberal Arts Review published by Beaconhouse National University, Lahore and the poetry editor of a bi-annual literary magazine, Papercuts of Desi Writers Lounge. She was born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and currently lives between Yonkers, New York and Lahore, Pakistan.