Sayeeda Tahera Ahmad was born in Bangladesh, but grew up in the US, making pit stops in between. A graduate of the MA in English – Creative Writing program at the University of Northern Iowa, she’s a former winner of the Selina Terry Poetry Award, has won an honorable mention for the New Millenium Writings Awards, and was a finalist for the Atlanta Review Poetry Award. Her poetry has been published in Inner Weather. Now back in Bangladesh, she works at a daily newspaper as a subeditor.
I have never skipped down fifty stairs
at a time, skied down cherry skins
and banana peels, soared under
the cerulean Pacific, or danced
with foot-long fluorescent seahorses
to “La Vie Bohème,” but I have swum
across a gritty sea of pint-sized sand dunes
in an old Nissan Datsun that rocked crabwise
as my father drove past the dead-end
sign in our neighborhood. We jumped
the curb on a whim, didn’t want to make
a U-turn to find another route downtown.
Our heads kept bonking against the roof
as the car climbed each dune, left us
chortling. We tried not to spit at each other
but a rare spray escaped our open mouths
and landed on the steering wheel.
Why should we sit fixed in our seats
when our life was about swaying across time
and getting sea-sick as we skimmed
like stones across a choppy lake of sand?
San Antonio Riverwalk
Strange that I come back to this
'Venice' only in spring, and stranger,
always drizzles when I stand
on the white cobbled bridge
between two commercial shores,
Texas Land and Cattle Steak House
on one side, and on the other,
The Esquire Tavern.
My feet shiver wildly,
want to skip between Bengal
and America, straddle Hong Kong
and Hollywood like Jackie Chan.
I want to lunch at the Esquire
and dine in Texas, cross oceans
without waiting at border posts
or always pulling out my passport.
Instead, I remain standing, silent
in the rain, unable to decide
if I can jump onto the boat drifting
beneath the bridge, land on two feet,
or if I will fall and drown
in the canal, become another
missing body lost amid the banks,
because I never learned to swim.
I traveled back in time to attend a feast
hosted by a medieval King and his Queen
at their coliseum. They were sitting down
to a banquet and invited me to dine,
to stomp my feet on the wooden steps
and cheer for the knights at their joust.
My favorite White Knight lost at the end,
when the Green Knight’s lance knocked
him off his steed, and I imagined him falling
onto my bench, bemused, reaching out
his finger to caress my neck and the bridge
of my nose because I was his Stella and he
was my Astrophel. “I saw your face
in a crowded place” but I can’t remember
you now because the rowdy chick standing
next to me bent past the railing to show off
the wooden cross dangling mere inches
from her chest, but slipped, fell nose-first
into a pool of mud and squealed like a newborn.