Michigan, 1998

My brother and I still reminisce about the year

we lived in another family’s attic.

For months we dreamt about playing outside

our faces pressed up like needy moths

against the window’s wintery pane.

Every chance he got, our stepfather

reminded us to pipe down, our mother

hinting for us to tiptoe along the attic’s floorboard

as it was still the Midwestern Muslim’s way

not to squander generosity.

Because we did not attend school

my brother and I decided to find stories

hidden between the attic’s cracks,

collecting dust. A story beneath a thimble,

an elbow propped up against a rusted bolt, a catwalk

taking shape along the sill, an epic tale about folk

no bigger than a thumb,

traversing this expansive landscape.

We told ourselves

stories, until the attic

growled with trappings,

our minds becoming little sail boats

drifting us into a tale,

where it didn’t matter

that my brother had forgotten

to bring toys with him the night

we moved into the attic, didn’t matter

that there was no radio or T.V.

We had an imaginary tribe

of people, their tooth-pick spears

glinting, their crumb sized loafs

of bread almost satisfying

our hunger to know

what happens next.

Sagirah Shahid

Sagirah Shahid is a Minneapolis, Minnesota based writer. Primarily a poet, her work often seeks to make sense of the complexities surrounding the human experience. A 2015-2016 winner of the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series Award in poetry, Sagirah’s work has been published or is forthcoming in: The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Mizna, Bluestem, For Harriet, Black Fox, Knockout Literary Magazine, Switchback, and The Fem literary magazine.

Contributions by Sagirah Shahid