by Nazreen Fazal
Every night before sleep
I swallow little pills of apologies,
Regular doses so I can doze,
See dreams well without random security checks
Every morning I mourn
The day and its turns
As I stir in strong condemnation with my tea
As I brush my teeth with more apologies
As I cloak myself in the otherness bestowed to me
And step into a gaze that
And they say:
Why don’t you just make up your mind-
Condemn or condone-
Get it right this time.
There is no way out so
Shout out your moderation from rooftops
Declare yourself civilized so we have no doubts
Scream that your religion is peace and
Continue to String prayers beads with apologies
For the crimes you did not commit
For the times you did not admit
Your absolute irrelevance in
This world we have made for ourselves
Or let us paint you in seven shades of hate
As we pillage and plunder
Your bodies and boundaries.
Don’t question our privilege
For offence is our right and
Dissent was never your due.
Accept the labels we so kindly bequeath
And tweak your faith to our ease.
Till you fold into the corners we spare and
Contort your history to erase our errors
Cull terror cells in your wombs and
Raise new tombs and
Raze new tombs.
Here, let us save you
Now express freely,
In our terms.
Adorn your brown, black and blue bodies with our ideas
Abandon your tongue and Put away your words
Weave your oppression into the strands of your veil
Now twirl around so the world can see you
Don’t let your truths seep into our world and
Stain structures built for you on your bones.
What was just meant to be black and white
For you will need them again
Store them in purses and pockets,
Seek crevices of your being that matter.
Tuck them into the delicate folds of your blue scarf,
Slip them between yellowed pages of the history book
behind the broken jar or just
Spread thin on the empty plates of your hungry child.
Fill apologies in your pores and your prose and your poems
Till you can no longer breathe.