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Loanwords for my Borrowed Home

Loanwords for my Borrowed Home

Loanwords for my Borrowed Home


Mavra Bari


Rooms of memories that have been built,

Foundation obscured, creaky stairs and broken windows.

One by one, compiled in to an immense heap,

Cannot be touched, only sorted in my mind’s eye - sometimes.


Not even the panoptic planes can see it,

These vessels can bring you here but never away.

I have too, lost the language of home,

My tongue as obscured as the lines on a map.


So I borrow words from those I do not know,

Will never know,

And find the echoes of myself.

Build rooms for those I love,

So I may keep them,

within the wall, the window, the bed frame and petals of a fallen orchid.


I think of my father, 

Imagine the ashy white of his beard,

The familiar itchiness of it against my cheek,

Warmth of which has been replaced by …


Which room shall i keep him in?

How do you bottle a presence you cannot see?


I think of my mother,

Feel with my fingers the contours of her eyes,

Lightly pressing her pain away,

The dewy softness of her skin I mourn.



Which room shall I keep her in?

How does one embalm someone still alive?


I think of all those lovers and friends,

We constructed homes from our collective loneliness.

But now I put the bricks alone,

Mortar sticking to my hands like glue,

A solipsist architecture that will fade with me.

I feel the bones of the walls,

Home is where your bones hurt in the cold,

The inheritance shunned, unshakable.


I move through the Polymorphous doors,

of this house.

Is it home? 

Can I enter the rooms I have constructed,

Or will the ground fall away?


Puzzle of nostalgia,

Difficult to put together,

More so to take apart.


The lines have blurred and I cannot see,

The place this nostalgia is for.

What these rooms cannot contain,

Or a home that never did exist…



I do not know, I can not say,

So I loan more words, for my borrowed home. 

One day. 

On Pakistan's LGBTQ Culture

On Pakistan's LGBTQ Culture

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