Poem

Doctor Qureshi Dares My Mother

“Maryam Jaan,” he says, “You must be proud
of your son Farouk, his wealth —praise Allah—
how he has made himself great in America.”

The doctor’s white hair is unruly like mine,
his bi-focals tipsy, his elbows rest
on the mahogany table hand-crafted

in Mexico for Ethan Allen,
classic Yankee firm Farouk reinvented
over the past 30 years over and over again

to help those who need help to make their homes
beautiful. He sits as usual at the head, his dark hair
slicked back, eyebrows arched at the dare.

Waitaminute, how unfair of the doctor
who goads my ami to choose favorites between
two sons, her betas, a Chairman of the Board

bankroller of Ami’s pricey healthcare,
and a dim bulb in the six light trumpet
chandelier bouncing of the buffed grain.

Dear doctor, faithful friend, first Pakistani champ
of the Scarsdale Bridge Club—mashallah—keep on
injecting Ami with B12, her weekly fix,

hear her heart beat, hold her gnarled hands as she
begs you use your wealth of healing savvy,
even declare martial law to please stop

voices, only voices always in her head,
but don’t provoke her as she sits up on
a Chippendale, sips saffron-infused Kashmiri

kahva from a china cup gold-rimmed hem
dupatta slips to her shoulders, “Doctor
Qureshi sahib,” she says, meeting his gaze

across the wide expanse of burnished veneer,
more geography than physiology on her face,
“I am proud of all my children.” Soaring

along the shoreline of Long Island Sound,
I’m as far from New Rochelle
as America is from a crescent zoon.

Urdu/English: jaan/my life; mashallah/praise allah; dupatta/veil
Kashmiri/English: zoon / moon

by Rafiq Kathwari, for Ejaz Qureshi

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