For Filthy Women Who Worry About Disappointing God — Seema Yasmin


If one man can take four wives
And the testimony of two women is equal to one man

Then by that algebra
I can have two lovers

One woman and one man
Or two women and no man

If haraam means forbidden
And haram means sacred space
Then harem is an inbetween place

Unholy and holy
Temple where I frolic with my two wives

On an abacus of their toes and tongues and fingers
Counting my special kind of math



the thing about loving Black men
                                                                      is they are hunted

so when you are bleeding in the bathroom
and he offers to run to the drugstore to buy
                                                            emergency tampons

you rub your bloody thighs with a makeup remover wipe
while shouting into the space between your legs

Don’t run to CVS!
Don’t wear a hoodie!

          because you know                              errands end in death
                                        for Black men

and you need him to come back home
because there is no one
there is no one

the thing about loving Black men
is when he Skypes you to say he was carjacked
with a gun to his head
what makes your heart crack
is not the Glock, the pistol-whipping or the bleeding head
it’s the witnesses who looked at your love
and told the police
          that your man is not the victim
he is the gunman they said

          and you know                                        reporting crime ends in death

                                        for Black men

the thing about loving Black men
is when your editor calls to say
you must report to the scene of the mass shooting
and you’re shoving press badge into handbag
worrying out loud about traffic and barricades and parking
and he’s pouring fresh coffee into flask and cashews into snack bag

                              you must say


you cannot take me downtown
because the shooter was a Black man
which means

                              there will          be          no          negotiations

and the police have asked the public to help
                                                  hunt          him

you say please don’t leave the house
because they are

                                        hunting a Black man
                                        and last time they killed the wrong Black man

          and you know commuting                              ends in death

                              for Black men

and you need to come home to him
snoring on your side of the bed
with the dog wrapped over his thick thighs
because there is no one

there is no one



qubool qubool qubool

i was not present at my wedding
he married me in a mosque that forbids women

qubool qubool qubool
i said

i sat in my childhood bedroom
on pink carpet that was laid in 1992

hands wet with henna
the imam next to me: it is my duty to ensure you are not being coerced

qubool qubool qubool
i said

my dowry bought one pair of Louboutins
exotic red-bottomed soles like I trudged on glass barefoot

i slept with plastic bags on my hands and feet
to protect the henna for the next day’s festivities

qubool qubool qubool
i said

my feminist mother arranged a celebration
combining my marriage with my med school graduation party

so although i was not present when he married me
we pray that Audre, bell and Arundhati will accept my apology

qubool qubool qubool




Patient S makes up words
Inventive with English her sixth language

She says bloody doctor is stupidating!
These pills are morticious numbakilling!

It makes sense
Patient S’s words make sense to me

It doesn’t matter if you understand, the consultant says
Patient S makes up words so Patient S is schizophrenic

Write it down.
Her words? No. Schizophrenic.

Patient S is Mirpuri
Which means

Genetic mutation was amplified by consanguinity
Bloody groomcousininnit!

Genius is in the Washington Post’s annual neologism contest
Not mad immigrant woman brain

Write it down.


Seema Yasmin is a poet, doctor, professor and journalist who lives in Texas by way of England. Her writing explores how religion influences sexuality and the ways in which women of color reclaim their bodies, sexual agency and power. She trained in journalism at the University of Toronto and in medicine at the University of Cambridge.