Illustration by Priyanka Paul

Yusra Amjad is a Pushcart-nominated poet and comedian from Lahore, Pakistan. She completed her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College on a Fulbright Scholarship, and her work has appeared in The Missing Slate, Crossed Genres, The Noble Gas Quarterly, L’Ephemere Review, Rising Phoenix Press, The Aleph Review, and others. She is currently working on her first poetry manuscript, Sometimes I Imagine My Country Is Mine.


even though no one
can quite name it
everyone knows
that something
is monstrously missing from me
like a limb
or a fingernail:

i’ll tell you
                               (please stop trying to guess) it’s fear.
that is what evaporated from me the night
my father’s soul evaporated from this city

overnight, I had nothing left
to be afraid of.

and that’s a grief
no one prepares you for

                              that's a funeral no one attends

they just know that something is wrong
when something so brittle walks so brazen

they just whisper behind your back
                             what kind of amputation could make
                             such a pretty girl so grotesque?


You don’t know anyone until you know
what they are afraid of.

It wasn’t the first time I saw my father cry.
the moon was full. the rooftop a small ocean of silvery brick.
it was the first time he cried to me.
mujhe kabhi chor kar na jana
I was ten. I didn’t comfort him.
a fact that he reminded himself of more than once in the years to come,
and felt vindicated by.
there is no way for me to know this,
but i know it anyway.

and that was the whole problem, up on that roof.

I was born knowing him.

that was the first time a man told me what i already knew
and expected me to thank him.