c Imran Siddiq

Grass Cradle, Glass Lullaby




You came to me unexpectedly, long after I had stopped hoping. The air smelled of rain and grass. I was carrying the shopping, an umbrella tucked under my arm. I was carrying a loneliness that extended like a sword from my heart. The loneliness was not unusual. The umbrella was; I’m usually more forgetful than that. The shopping bag I was carrying had two cans of beer and some frozen chicken drumsticks. Those have since been consumed.

I heard you crying from the tall grass. I’ve never minded babies crying. How they go e-e-ehhh. Or sometimes uwaaa-eh, with a different intonation. I heard you and I wondered: Where are you?

Am I hearing you from a window? Is your crying just amplified somehow?

Whose child are you?

The answer I dared not hope then: you were mine.




A story about young love:

It was the month of May, sacred to the Virgin. That’s what she was. She wore baby cologne and dresses with pockets. In the classrooms, the air was sticky and all the students smelled faintly of lemons.

There wasn’t anything special about him. The first day he wore a baseball cap, but the teacher told him to take it off. He was no rebel. He never wore it again.

They watched a horror movie together and when a dead girl slithered through the window, she did not scream, but placed her hand on his thigh.

Weeks later, as far away from the classroom as they could be, behind a line of trees: a kiss, then two, then three.

For days he had imagined his hands where they were not to be imagined. Suddenly, they were there.

She said, ‘I want to be able to make bad decisions.’

He broke a button off her blouse in his haste to remove it.




No name, no letter, nothing. Should I take you to the police? Knowing that

they might take you from me. Knowing that shard in my heart—

You could be mine.

One thing I could own.

One thing for me to love. I have a lot of love to give, I thought. A lot that I could give you. And there is a place for you in my little flat; there is a place for you here. On my bed. With me. I can make you a nest with my pillows. I can feed you somehow. No one is ever prepared for this, anyway. How the heart swells, how you learn simply by doing.

You didn’t cry when I lifted you.


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‘Grass Cradle, Glass Lullaby’ is included in Asian Monsters, published by Fox Spirit Books.

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