“Escape on Saturdays” by Ayesha F. Hamid

Saturday’s ritual is discourse and diners,
when we talk while walking to
our regular hangout, The Green Kitchen.

We exit the pressure cooker
as worries are left at the door.

Forgetting brimming calendars,
we find a space of solace
where it’s just you and me,
fresh silverware and an easy cup of coffee.

Now protected within peaceful parameters
the havoc halts as we talk and laugh and breathe.

“True Friend” by Ayesha F. Hamid

When you thought you could stop caring
for people who never cared for you,
but then realize you will always care
because that is what you do,
as long as your heart beats
and red blood pushes
forward and through
into your body
into your mind,
a kaleidoscope of care and concern,
your heart filled with the need
to hold everyone up, to make sure
that no one is left behind in life
or suffering from strife.
Those who betray never care
about leaving you there,
though you still do, faithful forever,
bearing much, a true friend
from now until the end.

“Winter Freeze” by Ayesha F. Hamid

Winter

The cold December frost made my teeth chatter involuntarily as I came out of Kroger’s grocery store. I remember I needed red and green lace for my second grade social studies project, which would depict various holiday themes of the season. Hurrying through the parking lot, I searched for the cream-colored Chevrolet. It was so cold and all I could think about was getting into the car. Finally, the door unlocked and entry was permitted. Relieved by the warm air, I felt the blood in my face and hands return to regularity. Noticing the mist form on the windows, I wiped it away with my pastel blue sweater. I looked at the embroidered edge of the pretty blue sleeve. As my eyes moved from the interesting lines of the sweater back to the window, I noticed a tall, thin stranger approaching our vehicle.

“Let’s go,” I said to my parents. The stranger frightened me because it seemed as though in between his skin and bones he contained no noticeable amount of flesh. His forehead and cheekbones protruded greatly giving him the look of some ghoulish skeleton that had wandered far from his place of burial. My father trustingly rolled down the window.

“Clean your windows, mister?” the skeleton asked my dad with a painful apprehension.

“All right,” my father replied.

Encouraged by the reply, his long, ripped fingers moved to a badly torn pocket to take out an ice scraper and rag. I watched on with curiosity. He noticed my glance and returned it with an awkward yet prepossessing smile. The smile was not from any obligation on his part and made me feel strangely guilty for having been so afraid of him simply for his appearance. He cleaned the small layer of residue that had formed on the windows. The ice scraper made a funny, screeching sound, which held an echo in my ear. As he moved from window to window, my eyes followed him without flinching.

“Done, sir,” he stated after a minute. His hand shivered slightly as he held out his hand for the money which he had earned. He must be cold, I suddenly thought to myself.

“Thank you, sir,” he said before he walked away. Though the payment my father had given the stranger did not amount to a huge sum, it was enough for him to buy a cup of coffee which would warm him for at least a minute before he would again leave the warmth for a winter of frozen skin and frozen dreams.

Note: this piece was the recipient of The American Association of University Women’s (Lansdale Branch) Excellence in Writing Award and was originally published in the 1996 Anthology of Poetry and Prose.

“Fear” by Ayesha F. Hamid

The eighteen wheeler drives by
red, green, and blue on the sides
speeding on, screeching at turns,
causing a fear of life,
a fear of death, a feeling which turns
as the wheels turn
sounds drilling down
deep into marrow before hitting the ground.

The truck passes, the sound dims
so all the fear felt quiets and passes.

Regret is realized as all that time
that was swept, the fear taking away
most moments till nothing was left.

“Simplicity” by Ayesha F. Hamid

I wish I didn’t think of you every time
I ate ice cream but I’m reminded
of the ritual of dinners on Fridays,
and the ice cream afterwards.

If only vanilla or strawberry had sufficed
we wouldn’t have had that fight. 

We could have continued
to talk and laugh and thrive
a whole world left for us to explore
though to traveling with me,
you always said no.

Simply put, simple flavors never interested you.

Everything you wanted had to be the best,
complex, like cookies and cream
with chocolate sauce, butter pecan with
whip cream on top, little edible masterpieces
for the world to see, while my scoop of
strawberry made you to scoff.

Still, you didn’t understand
why I asked us to part.

What point did you see? How would you possibly
ever have learned the truth about me,
that I’m predictable, simple, and sweet,
just like a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

“Ghost” and the Nature of Love and Life after Death a Movie Review by Ayesha F. Hamid

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The movie, Ghost, achieves something that is difficult to achieve in any medium or means of communication. Writer Bruce Rubin and Director Jerry Zucker give us a comprehensive and convincing vision for both love and life after death.

Sam Wheat is the character around which the plot revolves. A successful businessman with a loving girlfriend and bright future ahead of him, Sam remains cautiously optimistic about his life. He tells his girlfriend, Molly Jensen, that he fears change and the swiftness by which the circumstances of a human life can be altered. Sadly, the contents of this conversation turn out to be prophetic. Sam is murdered, and he does lose it all; his body, his girlfriend, his wealth, his very life. All material realities are stolen from him.

However, Ghost shows us that we all do, indeed, have an immortal, human soul. We see and feel the horror of what it is to suffer a premature death, to have one’s essence pushed out of the body before it is truly time. Sam enters a veritable Vita Nuova (new life) as Dante would call it.

Sam’s new life and new world frighten the viewer. It is a place where cement angels watch the departed from behind their calculating, stone eyes, where the dying are forced to watch their own physical bodies passing away, and where some unlucky souls are tortured and taken by dark, demonic forces. However, we also see glimmers of a reality of infinite love, mercy, and peace, a place that can be reached by an ordinary human soul, like Sam, simply because he had empathy for others and did not destroy things, like his murderer, Carl, did.

Ghost shows us the afterlife, but also helps us to understand the nature of true love. Throughout the movie, Unchained Melody plays in the background. The lyric “my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch” remains the haunting melody describing Sam and Molly’s love for each other. Ironically though, love, for the couple, does not and cannot revolve around touch. The juxtaposition of the couple’s reality with the lyrics of Unchained Melody give the story an added dimension and brings up the question, “what is love?”

If everything temporal, including sex, money, and even codependency, is taken away, then does love still stay intact? In Sam’s case, all of these things, including his body are lost, yet his feelings for Molly do stay intact. Though Sam cannot touch Molly, he still stays nearby, his protective instinct primal and not secondary to any physicality that may have been lost in death. So in Ghost, it is through the test of death that we truly understand the reality of love.

Ghost shows us that there are things that cannot be seen with our senses, but that are real all the same. Love and life after death are two things that the movie captures expertly.

“Potential” by Ayesha F. Hamid

Will your little hands, comparable to the
tapping hands of Handel, be remembered?

Will your young mind, comparable
in acumen to Curie, flourish?

How much violence deflects and how much
is imbibed by your little, grandiose mind?

Remember that perfect railroad track, your trains
turning the corners of that miniature city?

We both smiled playing but  your creation
brought out something unexpected
when we saw a display of his volatile spite.

Your father  kicked the railroad, destroying your trains,
your perfect dream came to an end as your smile
moved to confused sobbing, dear, sweet child.

Remember though that imagination
like elemental energy, cannot be destroyed
and no matter the destruction
we will wait for the emergence of your genius
as distinct as Da Vinci’s.

One day, you will flower again
with sweet stems outstretched,
absorbing all light, shutting out
any darkness that comes your way.