Poem: Nena, I see your hollowed cheeks in the corners of my sleepless room

"Nena was my first real heartbreak"

By Maryam Malik

My grandmother was a little like a broken shed 

On the side of the road.

You walk past her, a glance turns to a frown,

you keep walking. 

Nena was my first real heartbreak, 

And I was only a child. 

Who could’ve known this would’ve sparked an unlikely acquaintanceship

With death. 

It introduced me to sadness,

Both genderless and bodiless.

But its voice was of molten gold and in harmony,

Dripped with honey spikes,

That speared through my paper-thin skin,

That bled the words mama spat in my face every other hour of my wake for

The past twenty years. 

The pot of guilt and shame and embarrassment

rest beside my creaking bed,

They are too full on days I can’t move to empty them into the trash. 

Right now they’re filling my room,

And all I can remember is an imprinted picture 

Of the broken house that Nena was, 

When life itself doesn’t know what to do

and calls over cousin death for advice,

then death just invites the guest over to their house instead. 

And off they went

With the broken house

And the windows facing brick walls 

And the green, spoilt carpeted floors 

And the mold that covered the ceiling 

And the hours spent crying in the toilet 

And the weeds that peeked through the wooden backdoor 

And my broken heart.

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Maryam Malik is a 21-year-old Bahraini student majoring in English Literature and French. When she’s not passionately writing poetry and doting over fictional characters, she’s almost always listening to music.