You May Have Heard of Me

My father was a bear.
He carried me through forest, sky
and over frozen sea.  At night
I lay along his back
wrapped in fur and heat
and while I slept, he ran,
never stopping to rest, never
letting me fall.
He showed me how to be careful as stone
sharp as thorn and quick
as weather.  When he hunted alone
he’d leave me somewhere safe - high up a tree
or deep within a cave.
And then a day went on…
he didn’t come.
I looked and looked for him.
The seasons changed and changed again.
Sleep became my friend.  It even brought my father back.
The dark was like his fur,
the sea’s breathing echoed his breathing.
I left home behind, an empty skin.
Alone, I walked taller, balanced better.
So I came to the gates of this city
- tall, black gates with teeth.
Here you find me, keeping my mouth small, hiding
pointed teeth and telling stories,
concealing their truth as I conceal
the thick black fur on my back.


from ‘The Courtesans Reply’

In the beginning
my whole body was covered with skin
hard as rock. Then he came

and his mouth
running over me was a river, cool and quick
with small silver fish.

Night after night
he shaped me,
smoothed me down

to velvet


Now I bathe while he watches,
eyes fireflies
on my skin.

I bend over,
my hair between us
a curtain of water.

I let him towel me dry,
his strokes soft… then brisk,
a cloth shining a lamp.

Water drips down
my back. He grasps my hair
and climbs.

Poetry Books

Poetry Anthologies

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, ed. Sabrina Mahfouz (Saqi Books, 2017)

The Mighty Stream

The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King, ed. Carolyn Forché & Jackie Kay (Bloodaxe, 2017)

The Golden Shovel Anthology

The Golden Shovel Anthology, ed. Peter Kahn, Ravi Shankar & Patricia Smith (University of Arkansas Press, 2017)

TEN: New Poets from Spread the Word

TEN: New Poets from Spread the Word, ed. Bernardine Evaristo & Daljit Nagra (Bloodaxe Books, 2010)