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LOST IN THE UNDERGROUND by Jhilmil Breckenridge

 This poem looks at images of identity, belonging, roots and feminine symbols of place…

It was written as I reflected on how different my life could have been, had I been born in the country of my grandmother, Pakistan. Perhaps as an Asian abroad, I am always searching for my own identity, or perhaps I miss my grandmother, who was the most influential figure in my life.

Lost In The Underground
by Jhilmil Breckenridge 

There is a woman, her eyes smoky with kohl
walking the streets of Lahore
She is the smell of slowly simmering biryani
She is the taste of hot cinnamon scented kahwa
She is flat handmade, embroidered slippers and a black chador
She is pious and she is afraid and she tiptoes through Lahore

There is another woman, in jeans and a hoodie
Head thrown back, she laughs, red lips and sparkling teeth
Glistening raven hair, cropped and spiky
She is music and tattoos and piercings
She is a poet in the underground
She is a chaser of dreams through the streets of London

Feet in sneakers that would glide into the handmade slippers in Lahore
And transform into feet lined with henna, toes glinting with rings
And as she pauses to sip a latte
She thinks she catches a whiff of cinnamon
And as she turns her head, the woman in Lahore shrugs her chador off
And lets her hips sway to forbidden tunes

And as she stirs her biryani that night, the air is fragrant with hope
And freedom and a hundred possibilities
And as the sun rises over the Thames making it shimmer
The woman in London wakes up from dreams of a faraway land
Of kahwa and cinnamon, mangoes and mosques
Of henna scented palms and kohl lined eyes in a face just like hers

And as she makes up her face that morning, her fingers go unbidden 
To the eyes, lining them with kohl
The woman in Lahore, the music still within
Goes about her day, choosing the ripest mangoes and watermelons
And the woman in London, restless for sleep and technicolor dreams
Searches, searches, searches… forever lost in the underground

Jhilmil Breckenridge is a poet, writer and activist who speaks out about mental health, incarceration and abuse. She has just completed her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster. Her poems often worry about issues of feeling lost in a changing world, the immigrant or foreign experience, love and loss and longing, and nostalgia for times gone by. She is Fiction Editor for a South Asian literary magazine, Open Road Review. She is working on her first novel and when she is not writing, she is chasing clouds and rainbows with her iPhone. You may connect with Jhilmil on Twitter here. 

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~


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