The house is too heavy for floating.
Dad uses the spare duvet to sleep on the coach,
bedroom-less, tied down to the sofa.
Two cups broken in the sink,
a glass cup that shatters in the embrace
of a too-small mug.
Drunk Ahmed keeps throwing his empty bottles
out of his window three floors above.
Then he stumbles down the stairs
and chases the children screaming his name.
Suhaib falls out of the window.
He isn’t afraid of bones breaking,
has faith he’ll be kept together.
Ahmed tells the children he’ll eat
some of them for breakfast, some for dinner.
Today’s game for the children is guessing
how many bottles of alcohol he has emptied.
He looks you up and down,
licks his lips wanting to eat you,
until you fantasize about growing teeth out of your fingers
and draining his face of blood.
Touch is touch, but fist is not touch, says aunty.
Fist is one punch away from death.
Choke is not touch, says aunty.
Is not love, is not love, is not.
Imitate suhaib and take one step out of the window.
Race Ahmed’s empty bottle on its way down.
Mama is dying her fingertips orange in the kitchen,
turning into the sunset nobody opens their curtains for.
She can’t save you.
(published in Wasafiri)