Secrets and Safety

Dec 8, 2023 | 2024 Winter - Bi+ World Wide Web, Poetry

By Fatima

As I gaze outside my window I am reminded of
my crimes
all the warning signs
my short-sighted copyrights tweets and receipts
used against me.
I could not go outside and I could not speak and I could not stay here
alone
as I need to be
alone because I wear armor shaped like a tear-drop
crying, denying, lying, surviving, finding and fighting faceless names
Who knows the weight of carrying this briefcase of military secrets?
Now do you see the exploding hydrangeas? Now do you see what I see?
After my crimes, all the warning signs, my tweets and receipts,
after thousands of eyes have seen them
Why should I go outside?
Safety is in the darkest depths of the room, so far into the recesses of my mind but
stuck in the funnel web of Spider-Net’s unforgiving venom.

I could not stay here
alone
as I want to be
alone because the reaper is disguised behind anonymity
thriving in unanimity with the troll army.
Yes, they ambush, plant booby traps and decimate
like the cruelty with which the Five Eyes alliance violate, violate, violate
and no crimes there…
In Pakistan, they say, “your screws are loose”
but never, “who says you can choose?”
I say: me, I choose. I am as likely to love
a woman as I am likely to love a man.

Community. Oh, the longing for a chosen family.
I could not stay here
alone
as I told myself to be
alone because half of what I want to say
is visible in the love I receive from my community
laughter in DM group chats from WhatsApp to Telegram
validated not in trepidation but with a full embrace of my inner celestial navigation.

All my crimes
all the warning signs
all my tweets and receipts are
mine to own.
To live in fear is what they want for me.

I walked away from the window
and walked a mile in my shoes, recollecting,
stopped and stared at the centuries-old tree standing tall, unshaken
and then I decided
to take the tools into my own hands
and choose which seeds to sow
and choose what to feed the plants
and choose which fruits to nourish my life with
and behold, my identity, my home
that was destroyed in the war of social media feeds
has been refurbished with elegant androgyny.
I choose how I give my energy to cyberspace.
I have chosen what would grow in my life.
And what my life would grow into.
Alone, being alone
is choosing compassion for the spirit
for they are out to break you.
You—he her-story being written into time.

Fatima is a writer and activist navigating a double life since 1996. She is currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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