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Two villanelles.

By ZAINAB ISMAIL.

Otherworld

I tried to un-ghost the wilting tongue,
the half-lit voice of my elders, vying for fluorescence.
It blossomed elsewhere but I was young.

Lotuses of language floated along
communities too alien to me. In my defence,
I tried to un-ghost the wilting tongue,

attentive when we’d visit. It sizzled among
anecdotes, an untranslated loop when
it blossomed elsewhere and I was young.

I struggled to untangle songs
like polyglot knots and notes on conjugating tenses.
I tried to un-ghost the wilting tongue,

curving my mouth to nurse the syllables all wrong,
the verses rising and falling into obsolescence.
It blossomed elsewhere but I was young.

Gone is the guttural obstacle between loved ones
and the nostalgia I’ll never hear again.
I was too late to un-ghost the wilting tongue.
It blossomed elsewhere. I was young.

Pipette

I acquire a little comfort from a pipette.
Kitchen sink, your shiny buttercup offsets me as
the darkness of my mind sips it.

My larynx will be choral with rosettes.
Press the indigo bulb; wasps whistle off the vase.
I acquire a little comfort from a pipette.

Their jejune magenta tongues tell me to quit it.
My floral language praises its force in case
the darkness of my mind strips it.

Love dovetails with my tastebuds. Transparent
5 millilitres of the elixir say,
“Acquire a little comfort from a pipette.”

The dew runs clear as a phantom’s silhouette.
A stigma put this flower in disgrace.
The darkness of my mind snips it.

I’ll harvest all the sweetness I can get
from a sour taste which (seldom) irritates.
I acquire a little comfort from a pipette.
The darkness of my mind sips it.


Zainab Ismail is currently in her second year of studying English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich.

 

 

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