A Stone's Throw Away

Samina Hadi-Tabassum


I feel certain that I am going mad again
As he brushes against me on the school grounds
Our children playing in the cacophony of screams and cries
I cannot go through another terrible time
So we sit and talk until the afternoon sun
Slips away in our benched voices

Talk of absent spouses, laundry, writing, lawns
The price of apples, piano lessons, birthday parties
Lust is zulm I say to myself flushed
To covet another’s husband… 
Imagine standing in a crowded stadium
Waiting for the first stone to hit

I am doing what is the best thing to do
You have to forgive me

I wait for him patiently each day
On the wooden bench under the maple tree
I am reaching for a life
And I shan’t recover this time

I begin to hear his voice and there is a painful joy that builds up
Like the pounding of water under a bridge
The call of geese on a cold November morning
A catalpa tree blooming for one June night
I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been

I must find the best kind of happiness
So I begin to gather the stones
Ready to be carried out to the sea
Leaving my children behind on the bank
Never to be found


Samina Hadi-Tabassum teaches linguistics at Northern Illinois University. Her first collection of poems, Muslim Melancholia, will be published by Red Mountain Press in 2017.