The Word

I couldn’t tell you now what possessed me
to shut summer out and stay in my room.
Or at least attempt to. In bed mostly.
It’s my dad, standing in the door frame
not entering – but pausing to shape advice
that keeps coming back. “Whatever is matter,

must enjoy the life.” He pronounced this twice.
And me, I heard wrongness in putting a the

before life. In two minds. Ashamed. Aware.
That I knew better, though was stuck inside
while the sun was out. That I’m native here.
In a halfway house. Like that sticking word.
That definite article, half right, half
wrong, still present between enjoy and life.

‘The Word’ from Us by Zaffar Kunial. Published by Faber & Faber. Copyright © Zaffar Kunial. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN