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Displacement Glitch & Other Poems

Alycia Pirmohamed

Inherited Knowledges of The Sea

On the shore there are traces of last

night’s darkness


intangible artefacts, narratives, overrun

with salt, water.


The ghosts prepare for an advancing tideline, gently

pleating my sleep


into dream fragments.


In the mornings, I clear the endless foam off

of another lesson.


What is a written map if not a scholarly

tool of omission?


I am raised on colonial iconographies,

an image of the earth


bisected by borders and variegated hues,

regions partitioned


despite the land memories across them.


In an attempt to attend to the contours

of a living landscape, I kneel


at the cusp of the past, splay my fingers

out across time and space


disassemble into visible and invisible

shapes of wet sand.


The written map is a political map

that erases the route


of transgenerational spirits or the ocean’s deep

indigo passage.


How much violence lives in the residue

between arrive and archive?


When the sea ascends my body,

it scales all the way into my ancestral memory


my overlapping layers of inheritance.


Nostalgia meets bodily tissue meets calabash curve.

My memory storing capabilities


are tied to the great sea.

On the shore I can’t help but narrate the past.


Her Body is Her Language, Her Language is Her Body

In the imaginary garden

I plant a smooth tongue.

Here, I’ll grow kindness

from the seedlings

of my small glossaries.

Index cards still wet with ink.

The names of things I’ve loved

catalogued in my old diary.

An inventory of the places

I wander to in the dark

in the middle of the night

as if to escape the sheen

of my repeated apologies.

In the imaginary garden

I disassemble all traces

of my lingering shame.

A fragment of new growth

reshapes into the woman

I want to become.

She glows with the residue

of something cherished.

A fuchsia petal sprouts

like a searching limb.

What does time afford my body?

My skin? A liquid language

seeps into the dream-soil.

An ancient burden falls

off my face into the water

I’ve cupped in my hands.

Its cerulean-tinged stream

slithers onto my green project.

In quiet, milky whispers

across the gardenscape

I gather these new words.


Displacement Glitch


Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet based in Scotland. She is the author of Another Way to Split Water, as well as the pamphlets Hinge and Faces that Fled the Wind, and the collaborative essay Second Memory. She is the co-founder of the Scottish BPOC Writers Network, a co-organiser of the Ledbury Poetry Critics Program, and she currently teaches on the MSt. Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. Alycia has held post-doctoral positions at University Edinburgh and at the University of Liverpool, and she received an MFA from the University of Oregon and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She is the recipient of several awards, including the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. Find her online at on Twitter @a_pirmohamed, and on Instagram @alyciap_.



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