Momina Mela

What Not To Do

                              lehja لہجہ

if a bride laughs at her wedding, she is a whore

                              tareeqa طریقہ

if a bride eats too much at the ceremony, she is a whore

                              tarbiat تربیت

if a bride does not cry after the ceremony, she is a whore


if a bride wears lipstick before the ceremony, she is a whore

                              andaz انداز

if a bride dances too much at her wedding, she is a whore

                              takalluf تکلف

if a bride’s dowry does not contain silverware, her mother is a whore



An Education on Losing

I don't know what her body was thinking
when it recoiled feline, back to a choke

I wore gloves and a face mask
rolled her socks up to the ankles
the closest I had been to musk

her bones clicking in my hands

clinical woman
the most naked she had ever been
was when she was dying

the doctor     is     here     cover     my     hair

it doesn’t matter

we were both terrified of God
for different reasons

the sky occurred twice
first in blue, then in the pit of my stomach
puncturing through my good bacteria

it’s not time to wear black yet my mother insists

she wears orange and yellow instead
everyone thinks its inappropriate

cover your chest, this is a hospital
its inappropriate

but she’s dying in there

the most alive we had ever been was
when we bent to kiss her forehead in the rain

monsoon, seeing this beckoned another monsoon
to witness the happening

later that night
everything we had learnt thus far spirals
away from us: photosynthesis, carnivores, species

worlds and worlds of science prick at our
dysfunctional bodies

we fight a little and hold hands

we pump God into each other’s veins
and fatten ourselves up with His names


tonight we are all fanatics


Momina Mela is a Pakistani poet from Lahore. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, POETRY, Waxwing, and Drunken Boat, amongst others. She is an MFA candidate at NYU and currently lives in Brooklyn.