Bread Crumbs

Bread expired yesterday,
so papa gave it to the kuray-wali* aunty.
He cannot feed expired food to his kids,
and the garbage collector, wiping sweat
with her dupatta, looked at the bread
as an early morning victory, smiled;
gratitude in the cavities of her teeth.
Kindness can be sneakily serendipitous,
like the sea. Papa opened the fridge,
lentils and boiled rice glared at his
pure heart; three days old, he cannot feed
old food to his kids, so he microwaves it
for his breakfast. Our religion taught us to
give and give more, so we give away death
in glossy Tupperware, and we often eat
death to save our kids, and we often have
our breakfast early, thinking bread crumbs
may leave no trail, but our kids hoot and spit
in narrow streets, daring to stand in front
of flashing headlights. Sometimes, papa
effortlessly changes death’s trajectory, sitting
in his saggy chair, watching TV, arbitrarily
tracing the shape of remote’s buttons, sneezing.
It’s true; self-love often transmogrifies into desire,
into a father who keeps saving you like a mother.

*Kuray-wali (Urdu): The one with garbage

Hiba Heba is an English-language poet from Pakistan. She is a graduate student of English literature and linguistics. She has a micro-chapbook, Grief is a Firefly, published by Origami Poems Project, 2021. Hiba’s poem “Morning Prayer” is the First Runner-up for the New Feathers Award 2021. Her poems have appeared in Fragmented Voices, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Wild Word, The Ofi Press Magazine, The Punch Magazine, among others. Her debut poetry collection, Birth of a Mural, will be published by Golden Dragonfly Press. She can be found on Instagram as: hiba.heba_.

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