Fatima Malik

2021, Poetry

EXODUS

Like a bird migrating south for the winter, happiness flew
out of the picture with his departure. Joy, lambent and alive, had flared
bright from all quadrants of his being: unwavering in its intensity; steadfast in the face
of all opposition. He was a collector of the small and sacred; admiring and reverent of the truly magnificent. Not only a believer but a devotee, working to convert
us skeptics to his way of squeezing cheer out of a stone, and diligent
in his ministrations. At a long day’s night, when he laid his head down, sleep
was kind to him, finding him good, finding him worthy. He placed his worries under
his pillow for safekeeping, knowing they would be waiting the next day, loyal
sentinels bookending his days and nights. So what
could be the use of nudging those stubborn beads back
and forth through the landscapes of one’s dreams? When he closed his eyes
for the last time, that tiny thing stirred and trembled in our chests, taking
off on golden wings for good by way of throats left silent in its wake.


Fatima Malik (she/her) is a Pakistani-American poet with work published or forthcoming in Chestnut Review, diode poetry journal, The Georgia Review, Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The Margins, Waxwing, and others. She is working on her first full-length collection of poems, an excavation of grief after her father’s sudden death. She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and a joint MA in Journalism and Near Eastern Studies from New York University. While she currently lives in New York City, her heart is forever in Lahore. Find her on Twitter @FaZeMalik.