What Remains after a Fire
by Kanza Javed
God bless us
from our furious ambitions
that push us to travel thousands of miles,
into the arms of strangers,
gods and demons.
Into the laps of men and women who are wrong for us.
Under the shadow of trees, familiar,
In a land where everyone understands
but no one really understands.
Back home. They say. Girl! You are on fire!
But you ask, what remains after a fire?
Things are born in one land. They fall apart in another.
This poem was written after Kanza Javed left Pakistan and moved to a small town in West Virginia. Isolation was frightening. Disorientation was a real thing. The 2016 election had rattled her sense of belonging in the West, and in a town that voted for Trump. She felt unwanted in Pakistan where women are mean't to limit themselves by surrendering to early marriage and motherhood, and in America, where she suddenly realized the "worth" of her outsider identity and "brown-ness".