He had asked the doctor
Who had been cutting

Into his skull with a scalpel
If something else might break

Inside the braincase—
Would it be fair

For the man to press the switch
Of departure? This early

In the journey to stop
The flutter of red phoenixes

And the glances of blond daisies

If it would be okay
To sleep where the children sleep

Where the narrator lives
Outside of the frame.

The doctor did not answer him
But held a scope to the man’s eyes

And kept cutting through the tissue
Until the blade had reached

The pearl in his brain.

Zeeshan Pathan is the author of The Minister of Disturbances (Diode Editions, 2020). He attended Washington University in Saint Louis as a Kenneth E. Hudson Scholar where he studied poetry with Mary Jo Bang, Carl Phillips, and Fatemeh Keshavarz. He speaks several languages and translates from Urdu, Turkish, & Persian. At Columbia University, he received a Fellowship to study poetry at the graduate level and he completed his M.F.A. under Lucie Brock-Broido. His poetry has been featured in Tarpaulin Sky Press Magazine and in an anthology of contemporary American Muslim writings by Red Hen Press.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński