Fatima Malik

Triple Sonnet with Flowers
                                        after Dorothy Chan

I suppose it flowed freely in your veins,
          kept time in your chest, this knack for growing
things, son of the soil that you were. Your own
          little square of earth you relinquished, be-
queathed to you by your father and to him
          by his and on, when the first ancestors
shed their nomadic ways, bent to the pull
          of the land, settled by the Chenab, that
river of Sohni, that river of love,
          that river of loss. Not wanting to carve
up that parcel of land further, no boys
          of yours to leave it to. Picture me,
considering the clod and following
          the furrow. Still, one can take the man out

of the farm but can’t, you know. In the House
          on Shaheen Street, you grew things directly
in the earth. Green that bore fruit: mangoes; limes;
          guavas; curry leaves. The soil there, fertile,
played willing host to local varietals
          of rose, both monochromatic and two-
tone; bougainvillea; night blooming jasmine.
          Not so eager was the soil at the House
in Gulshan-e-Rehman when it came to
          seed, spark, service. You coaxed, cajoled, clashed, then
paved it over with concrete. All verdure
          shrank into pots large and small, a lone bed
from which rose a bougainvillea tree, small
          but mighty, its flaming blossoms spreading

out against the cream wall like a pink sheet.
          Sundays you spent on your haunches, trowel
in hand, spraying, pruning, propagating.
          I wish you’d seen me turn into a plant
person. I’d confer with you about why
          the cat palm leaves are turning brown, rejoice
in the plant coming back once it was moved —
          me believing in feng shui, you in
the science of too much and too little
          light. But these are simply more flowers of
wistfulness I gather in my skirt, add
          them to others blooming in my chest, breathe
in the scent of red-black roses growing
          behind your everbright eyes, thorns and all.



Fatima Malik (she/her) is a fundraiser and poet with work published or forthcoming in Chestnut Review, Door is a Jar, Josephine Quarterly, The Georgia Review, The Margins, 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