Come give me a kiss on the cheek

poetry by Manahil Bandukwala

Come give me a kiss on the cheek


Chulu bhar paani me doob jao: to drown in the water that fits in one’s palm: to be ashamed


Hold out your hand, curl fingers to space.

Now turn the tap on. Let water run


& run off your lined hand. The slice that runs

parallel to your life line stings a bit. Keep your hand


straight so your palm fills with water. Don’t let it

drip. Hold as many drops as you can 


& go drown yourself in it. How shameful, 

the dating, the kissing, the fucking. How could you share


on Facebook a post supporting abortion? Now everyone

will think you’ve had one. Would you kill


god’s creation? Would you? Would you write

his name with a lower-case h? How shameful, the drinking,


the smoking, the short skirts & bare shoulders.

See, if you covered your legs it wouldn’t


have happened this way. & if you’re going to kiss

a girl, make sure no one knows about it. Is the water


still in your palm? Just a few drops. Good, now

you can drown again, the swearing in English, 

the slices of ham behind rennet-free cheese slices,


this thought of travelling through Europe

alone. You cut through the men’s section at the masjid


now everyone will say look, what a slut. The breathing, 

the eating, the sleeping. Your palm is dry


won’t you come home to see me?


Manahil Bandukwala

Manahil Bandukwala is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Pipe Rose (battleaxe press, 2018). Her work has appeared in publications including PRISM, Room, The Poetry Annals, Parentheses Journal, Coven Editions, Bywords, and other places. he was the 2019 winner of Room magazine’s Emerging Writer Award. See her work at