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his is an abstract poem about the different ways in which a woman can reclaim her 'self' despite the insurmountable odds. Sometimes it is a conscious effort while other times it is an unconscious war between continuity and recession, like the ebb and flow of the waves. Towards the end, this poem reminds us that the 'self' is always present nonetheless; sometimes shrouded, sometimes fully revealed to us.

The Vicissitudes of Self

Coffee is cold, of course.

Bedspread is ceaselessly rebelling against the mattress.

Mirror is scarred with lipstick and foundation,

speckled with loose powder, of course.

Phone is forgetting the loops of this index finger.

Body is unfurling inside a barbed wire.

A punching bag is putrefying beside the book shelf,

‘EVERLAST’ is etched on its stiff exterior, of course.

Body is made of the dust on a coffin.

Junk food wrappers, cardboard cut-outs, cola cans;

phosphenes in the dark, of course.

Body is a charred mackerel squirming under the saran wrap.

Dreams are dingy. Most of the litter is bred from food, of course.

Click the lighter, light up the moon-kissed candle.

There are ways to reclaim the tactility of a touch.

The same coffee cup, when microwaved, 

becomes a Mjolnir in the dome of the palm, of course.

Body is a fortress of mist breathing into a dead riverine.

Body is that gentle glimmer wafting around the burnt

midnight oil, like a believer returning from an umbra.

Hiba Heba is a Pakistan-based writer and poet. She earned her Bachelor of Science in English literature and linguistics from Air University and currently she is applying for scholarships abroad. Some of her poems have appeared in Daily Times, Terror House Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Literary Yard, Visual Verse, Feminist Voices Anthology: Volume II, OpenDoor Poetry Magazine, The Raconteur Review, The Wild Word, Ofi Press Magazine and New Feathers Anthology. Her poetry encompasses around topics related to women empowerment, the connection between human emotion and the geography of her land and she also experiments with fragmented imagery that aims to portray a range of philosophical ideas. Hiba can be found on on Facebook here, on Instagram as Hiba.Heba_, and on Twitter here.

*For submission guidelines, click here.*


  1. Very good poem Hiba pl.keep it up

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. Your style is so refined and you have a powerful voice.

  3. Amazing imagery and deep thoughts. This poem deserves more attention! ❤️❤️


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