Fariha Hossain

Rookie - 30 Points (November 16,1997 / Decatur, Georgia)

Toothpaste - Poem by Fariha Hossain

I could tell you that the amber sunset
Is enough for my eyes to pry themselves awake
Every morning,
Could tell you that the saccharine coos of birds stretching their wings
Are the sweetest alarm clocks I've ever heard.
I could tell you that the bitter coffee in my ladybug mug
Make my yawns subside.
I could tell you,
'It's the simple things that make early mornings worth it for me',
But I'm not a liar.

I'll tell you this,
I am not a morning person.
When the sunrise knocks at my door,
I angrily slam it shut and retreat underneath fleece blankets and satin bedsheets.
I'm not much of a talker, either,
It's hard to be loquacious when my conversation with REM sleep was so rudely interrupted.
When I drowsily stagger to the bathroom,
My fingers instinctively reach for the emerald toothbrush on the basin,
Daintily lined with spearmint toothpaste.
Its perched at this perfect angle so as it doesn't tip over.
I never forget the one behind this daily act of kindness.

My mother is the only person I've ever wanted to hear
When I rub scattered sleep from my eyes.
Nowadays, she meets my gaze over milky Bangladeshi tea,
Speaking only to wish me luck on the day's tasks because she knows I don't care much for small talk this early.
But when I was little,
She showered me in cutesy rhymes about the weather,
And trust me,
Whenever it gets cold,
I'm silently singing 'coldy coldy, goldy goldy' in my head like a mantra.

See, my mother,
She has always known what I want before my heart had even been set on it.
Breakfast has never been my favorite meal,
And yet somehow she managed to make sure I never left the house hungry,
Even though my tastes changed every other week.
She was always like that about meals,
She knew my stomach like her favorite novel,
And you should see the way she knows her favorite novels.
I used to find the creases in her books, red pen highlighting
Bengali syllables that made me envious that her knowledge of the language was too much for me to fathom.
I still tell her that her stomach is my favorite home.

My mother and I shared a bed until I was 17 years old,
And yes,
I know that sounds weird,
But her heartbeat was the best lullaby.
I'd tell her, 'Call Grandma, keep talking to her, tell her everything,
Even the things that don't matter, '
So i could listen to their voices in unison,
Wondrous tales of Bangladesh,
Of its caramel colored people, marriage as sacred as the Ganges,
A legion of dreamers desperately hoping to progress.

Me, I was born in this land of opportunity,
Found home in the stripes of our red, white, and blue flag,
America got me in the divorce,
But my prayers are answered in both English and Bengali.
And my mother, she etched dreams into my spine,
Carved them with her dainty fingers coated in vermillion nail polish,
She never wished for a doctor
Or an engineer,
Like our cultural stereotypes want to suggest;
Instead, she wished that her only daughter
Be happy.

So, now,
When I welcome morning like an apology,
There's one thing that keeps me from burrowing into my
Mother's lap once again,
And it's her hopes,
Her aspirations, her generosity when she gives me that last sweet,
Even though she really, really wanted it.
It's her,115 pounds of vibrant strength and wisdom,
(you can tell by her rimmed glasses!)
Guiding me with invisible arms, wherever I am.
When I see that toothbrush lined with spearmint toothpaste,
I remember.

Topic(s) of this poem: family, morning, mother

Form: Slam

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Scholarship slam: What makes you get up and greet the day?

Comments about Toothpaste by Fariha Hossain

  • S M Zia Hyder (4/20/2017 10:58:00 AM)

    Excellent writing Fariha! ! (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, March 31, 2017

Poem Edited: Friday, March 31, 2017

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