Kashaf Ghumman



in the gynecology out-patient department we are separate / some of us shrug
medication into cramps / some of us feel it cutting deep inside us /
some of us snigger at the treatment of vaginismus / frigidity / ask the women to use
their fingers and dilators / just relax / some of us call it / fear /
deep dyspareunia sounds like excuses / deep dyspareunia sounds like trauma /
it’s gross to call endometriotic cysts chocolate cysts / we all agree / some of us think /
of our ruined appetites / the pain of old blood rotting is not a guilty pleasure /

a hysterical wail starts up in the throng of sprawled-open-women / we shut our books /
straighten up / ears pierced for drama / women are too emotional / slap her to sanity /
sedate her / shut up / this is why we’ll never choose to be gynecologists / too many women /
shut her up / silence / go see what’s wrong / we don’t want to study / go see /
miscarriage / she didn’t bleed for months / she was pregnant / finally /
please / she was pregnant / her husband will throw her out / please /
she was pregnant / he’s looking for a new wife / please / save her baby /
please / her husband beats her / please / she doesn’t want to leave / she’s not too old /
he’s not too old / he’ll replace her / she was pregnant / it’s not menopause /
save her baby / it’s a miscarriage / IT’S NOT MENOPAUSE /

in the gynecology out-patient department we are separate / some of us are respectful /
/ silent / furious / it happens / that’s the way things are / not saying it’s okay /
but be realistic / fuck off / don’t get emotional / can’t cry over every patient /
/ it is what it is / what it is / what it is / what it is /

the cold metal stool turns warm as my body releases / my fertility /
the menopausal woman rages against her body’s betrayal / and i let the red /
/ stain all my white / the badge between my legs / below my belly button
/ my filth / my fertility / my hysteria / our hysteria / my duty / our duty /
infertility is for your sins / sprinkle holy water inside you / before he /
releases his filth / his fertility / his ageless duty / his right /
but i hide my cysts / the disease around my eggs / i’m young now /
but now is not forever / and at least for today my body is my own /



they taught us in cardiology that
holes in our hearts lead to murmurs
and I wondered how many holes I had
to hear murmurs across decades
then they told us if our valves narrow
or prolapse we hear different murmurs
maybe that’s why the murmurs between
my parents’ chests sound different
and sometimes our aortas stenose or
regurgitate and I confuse regurgitating with
retching and I increase the grade of my murmurs
they’re too loud to hear anything else in my ears
and sometimes they zip under my hand when I place
it on my neck – but I can’t be a good cardiologist
because bit by bit every scream is a murmur
and a silent room is too loud.

Thanatophoric – Death Loving


My body likes to grow death inside me every
time I wish for life, and yet despite that,
the dysplasia, the anomalies, the narrow thorax,
the ultrasounds I hold my breath for and my child suffocates,
I can’t wish for death; my womb is not reverse psychology,
my eggs do not understand stability, do not understand function,
cannot understand that they can’t pass on my mistakes
and my weaknesses. There was a time I loved death and

now it seems my child loves it too. He/she/they crumble inside
and release into me and out of me. For all the years I had spent
invading blades, I am now afraid of blood, of movement, of betraying
the death in my genes. And my child refuses to grow ears, my crying is not
something my child will hear; it is better to dissolve not knowing pain. And
every time I am left with a clump of broken bones and clots because
my eggs cannot create a soul, cannot create love for me; and why should
it? My fertility is my measure and I am a forgotten woman.




Kashaf Ghumman is a medical student from Pakistan, trying to learn the rhythms of the medical field while studying the anatomy of poetry. She has previously been published in the Shot Glass Journal by Muse-Pie Press, Recenter Press and Glintmoon.