Yano Ism


My expertise is molecules. Please do not mistake this for a eulogy, but I remember the oxygen, red, and the fire, lifelike, and the smoke and how it hugged our cold bodies. I said I wasn’t writing but there was the fog clouding the windows in the van. And the smileys, do they count? Does tracing your name against my thigh count? Does a beating heart count?

I want to know what it feels like to be family, once, forever. To be the fetus unconcerned with leeching the iron from your liver. To be you, the mother who lets love mould in the fridge, behind the microwave, like a teabag, all dried up in the sink.

I would have nursed your parasite and washed the amniotic fluid from between your legs with a bleached cloth. Smelled my fingers and been transported back to that day in the community pool. Did you not think I would have carried your child? Let it break flesh and muscle as it fought hold of you from outside my womb? I would have let my body deteriorate. Pain distort it like a homunculus. Pain render it useless and broken and aching, for months, if it could mean what it once meant to share a life with you.

Time oscillates like gasoline, long and short. Short and stretching into a reminder that we can only trace the motions of molecules retrospectively. Eight months and sixteen days both feels like an eternity and the shortest time to get acquainted with love and lose it. I’m not sure I exist outside of grief, outside of these memories. Please do not make this into a eulogy. I have a testimony

of the temperate water, and the chlorine weighing the baby hairs at the nape of your neck, and the whirling fans, and the heat making our bodies stick to the plastic foam mattress

of good days in the prairies and bad days hunched over toilet bowls in truck stops.

You see, I, too, can lay motionless on a mattress. I too can grow a virus and let love leak on the trailer rug. Yes, I too can feed love the way our mother fed love. Irrigate the weeds with bleach and watch what crawls forth from the soil. But I want more. Wanted more. Together.

Yano Ism is studying biochemistry at a university in Sweden. She’s been writing online since 2012 and has found her voice through exploring her own intersecting identities as a queer, black, Muslim woman in the world.

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