Your father died

today. You smile and act normal. Your mother

weeps gently into a crumbling tissue in the corner

of a large room draped

in white sheets. You meet the people

that have come to give their condolences, kissing them

on both cheeks just like the French do. You say,

yes, I’m fine. Thank you for coming.

Won’t you sit? Would you like anything to eat? You don’t know what to do

with your hands. You invite the younger children up to your

pastel-pink bedroom. You laugh when the older ones remind you that you are

twenty-something years old and comment on how girlish you remain.

You ask the girls if they want to see

your new perfume. You place the perfume on your chest of drawers in front

of an old picture

of you and your father,

bringing out new bottles every time telling yourself you will put them away


You tell everyone yes, I’m fine

once more.

The guests leave. You go to sleep.

Three days later, the perfume bottles are still there.

Originally published in KidSpirit Online for The Psyche issue.

Fareeha Shah wrote this poem when she was 17 years old. She lives in Karachi, Pakistan, and her hobbies include horseback riding, photography, and writing.

Artwork by Eleanor Goetz created this piece when she was in 11th grade. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.