The Dialysis Room
by Nausheen Eusuf

Thrice a week, he took her there, watched
her dark red blood swirl and flow
through delicate tracts of tubes to be cleansed,
her failing kidneys almost useless now.

There would be others, too, who lay tethered
in motionless submission, surveying the room
with sunken eyes.  The fluorescent lights
hummed overhead, unable to relieve the gloom.

The doctor, a young woman, smartly dressed,
read the newspaper at her desk, and watched
over the nurses who rendered their attention,
cordial, but careful not to get attached.

As the hours wore on, he could not tell
if the sun shone outside or if it rained.
On the screen: a graph records the flow of blood,
the time elapsed, and how much remained.

Later, as she weakened and could not walk,
he would wheel her there, her body small
and limp, then lift her gently onto the bed.
She would clasp his neck, so as not to fall.

Every now and then, one of the wasted
forms would disappear, a name erased
from the whiteboard schedule on the wall,
the vacant spot soon, too soon, replaced.

Leaving the hospital, he’d always feel
dizzy, his senses ravaged by the sway
of the crowd, the ceaseless flow
of traffic, the blinding light of day.

by Nausheen Eusuf

It wasn’t when I saw her obituary
in the morning paper—her 56 years summed up
so inadequately—or when she was brought
out of a freezer in the BIRDEM morgue
(the size of a bathroom with flaking lime-washed walls,
broken windows, and dull metal freezers
locked and labeled in a neat blue script)
or when her face was uncovered—swollen, gray,
even in death contorted in pain, grotesque.
It wasn’t at the
the university’s, in the front lawn
of the building where she taught for thirty years,
or our own, in the red brick Baitul Aman mosque—
or when we buried her, and along with the men,
I cast three handfuls of the loose red earth.
No, it is waking at night almost forgetting,
the incense burning, burning for forty nights,
pillars of ash crumbling on the dining table.
It is her glasses, perched so casually
on the TV where she left them last,
her toothbrush in the bathroom, her cotton saris
starched and folded on a chair, the house
suddenly a museum, and we its curators.

by Nausheen Eusuf  

On the seventh night
the first stirrings
of the
hail on the house,
the first rain in months.

The windows shudder,
waking him from
a dreamless sleep
to the scented haze
of sandalwood.

He rises to watch
the luminous tip’s
slow descent, pillars
of ash crumbling
on the dining table.

Elsewhere, trees
like thin fingers
reach skyward,
and the crows,
disturbed, are cawing.

The storm heaves
like a labored
mechanical breath.
And she in her grave
so still, so still.

by Nausheen Eusuf

This one conjures a boy
slaving over his sums,
and this one, a child
tracing his ABCs.

This one, perhaps, wanted
to be a plane, to soar
to distant heights and
alight in a far-flung land;

instead, it recalls the clash
of steel, the thundering hoofs
of kingdoms and conquests,
Mughals and sultans.

Here’s one that proudly
flaunts the precision
of its lines and angles,
triangles and trapezoids

now strangely transformed
into neat paper squares
in which a peanut seller
wraps his wares, the scraps

of other lives that filter
daily through our own,
just as mine will pass
into other hands, unknown.



Nausheen Eusuf holds an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns
Hopkins.  Her work has appeared in
Acumen, Orbis, Mezzo Cammin,
Poetry Salzburg Review, and other journals, and her chapbook,
What Remains, is forthcoming from Longleaf Press.

On “The Dialysis Room,” “Grief,” “The Seventh Night”:
“The Dialysis Room,” “Grief,” and “The Seventh Night” are
elegies for my mother, who passed away in March 2004 while I was
in the creative writing program at Johns Hopkins.  I traveled home
to Bangladesh four times between November and March (the fourth
time was for the funeral) and dealt with the grief the only way I
could—by writing about it.  Those poems provided the nucleus for
my first collection,
What Remains.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 6, Number 2
(Fall 2011)

Copyright © 2011
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
The Seventh Night