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with THE OTHER SIDE
artwork by LUCY XIAOCHUAN LIU
نانی – Nani
instead of dying
have a coke with me
just a small glass
from one of the fifteen bottles you used to buy in bulk
in that little Slough kitchen i rarely entered
or how about a mango lassi and some fresh roti with daal that i never quite got round to learning how to make you with pyaar
with these hands that never fed you
or place your tiny wrinkly hand in mine and squeeze it with mighty life in this place you will talk to me and i will talk back in the tongue that is yours and still mine before the taking
as you speak with lips that fold in and out and in
like a bud uncertain of its bloom
i will receive every petal and say more words than جی or نہیں and the lords loom will weave our sentences together in understanding
i’ll tell you about the women i loved and long to love and you’ll tell me about the ways you dream you could have loved before being married at fourteen
instead of dying
let’s take a flight back to your first home before the partition
me in a white sherwani you in that off-white salwaar kameez
mouthful of paan swigging from a glass green bottle of coke
as we step onto the wide-open runway
you place your hand on my shoulder and say
i always wanted to bring you home
THE OTHER SIDE
“I embroidered ‘Death.’ on twelve pieces of silk, and displayed the front side of the embroidery against the wall. Viewers could only see the reverse of the words and the fraying threads. As living beings we cannot fathom what is on the other side.
As a poet and artist, I am interested in defining and visualizing three-dimensional space with language. This simple gesture of inverting the line ‘Death.’ divides the temporal space we live in from the unfathomable.”
~ Lucy Xiaochuan Liu
SANAH AHSAN writer
Sanah Ahsan is a queer Muslim womxn, a clinical psychologist, award-winning poet, and all-round disrupter. Her work is centered on compassion, decolonising our understandings of mental health, and embracing each other’s madness. Sanah’s psychological work is rooted in liberation and community psychology. She draws on therapeutics, poetics, and activism as interconnected practices to support racialized and marginalized people. Sanah recently published her research on deconstructing whiteness within clinical psychology, and she is currently working to build antiracism as a core competency into UK clinical psychology training.
Sanah’s work also includes features on: Channel 4, BBC 2, The Guardian, Ted Talks, and at the Southbank Centre, London. She is currently writing her debut poetry collection.
LUCY XIAOCHUAN LIU artist
Lucy Xiaochuan Liu is an artist and poet mainly wrestling with grief and historical residue. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship and the Paris Photo Prize. Her poetry chapbook The Rye of Pondering was selected by poet Cameron Awkward-Rich and published by Jubilat at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her art and writings have been published by the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Magazine, Paris Lit Up Magazine, Columbia Journal, and Smith College Museum of Art. She has read her poems at Amherst College, Unnameable Books, and the Emily Dickinson Museum.
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