Liala Zaray

Self Portrait in Which I Accidentally Draw My Mother


A blurry, out of focus, black and white photo; forwarded too many times
to figure out the original source, finds its residence in our Whatsapp chat
Look this me in Kabol jan bcus I wit my clas the message reads 
like an explanation. The warm undertone of your skin challenges the confines 
of a binary color scheme and I laugh at how you resist even while two dimensional
After I showed you how to use voice to text to make your life easier, the first question you asked was
Siri, what is Amrika doing in my country? While watching BBC, the corners of your mouth 
thread upward, unsatisfied with the journalist’s pronunciation of Kandahar. 
American exceptionalism is a concept that does not exist in any of the six languages you speak
Family heirlooms include peeled skin around my fingernails and a call log with 76 missed calls
Each morning I wake, you tell me you hear landmines in place of your heartbeat.
I am naive enough to confuse the two with homesickness. When they took over 
you gripped my wrist till it turned the color of your father after the stroke
You cried into me for days, only stopping when the funeral guests said I had your eyes

Liala Zaray is a Pushcart prize nominated MFA candidate at St. Mary’s College. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Tinder Box, BOAAT, and Smartish Pace. You can find her on Instagram through the username @liala_af
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