Poetry Fiction 2009

Boy


Audio: Hear the poet read this poem aloud

They called me “boy” in Kashmiri,
Because they had no other word for what I
Appeared to them to be. Taller by a half foot,
Gawky in my rolled jeans and cap—they

Chose to look away from my small breasts and
Voice-lilt and rename me in the lexicon of sex.
The shikari—mysterious, wizened, in loose turbans—
Were our guides, up the mountain and through

The wall of white water. They linked arms with us
And waded us through to the high still pools above,
Where we’d cast for trout. They stepped in and out
Of Allah as we climbed, in sun and shade, singing

His name. We were miles above Srinagar and two
Hundred miles from China, and the finned bodies
Were swift under the surface. The shikari pointed:
“Budd gaard-e! Big fish! Then they murmured

Their one word for me, and it was not “sister” or
“Daughter.” I was Naked Face, twenty-seven, a rebel,
I thought. Therefore they made me their oversight.
Had they not looked away from me as they spoke,

Had it been otherwise, they would have heard it,
Above the peaks—the clear unwavering call, a
Command to rip my cap away, to pick up stones.
To separate my face from my face, stripping the

Veil from a hook of air, holding it over my breath till
I gasped like a fish, till I was a pair of eyes on a plate,
That body the world wishes to both savor and destroy.

Presented by

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In