The Effrontery of Being Alive

Farida Haque
2 min readOct 11, 2022

~ that which was mine, my daughters shall not inherit ~

‘PENANCE’ acrylic glazes on gold leafed canvas by author


Only a coward

chooses ignorance over self-knowledge.

Fleeting courage

brought me;

I am greedy for love.

Is that why an

eternal hunger

stalks me?

I, a woman

made a mistake —

I fought to live,

not merely exist.

I’m only human, mother.




dashes around

inside me like a rat

trapped under

a thick blind blanket.

Though the world


and forgets

marches on,


every day

I must do penance

with a jagged speculum.

Pull out first,

sleepless nights.

Then worlds of wonder

then desperate recollections,

my stillborn goslings

in a pallid rain…

Pull out dread

and maimed courage

pull out God.

It is I who sets you free, Lord;

I have been a supplicant far too long.

No matter, it’s nothing

groveling is my legacy

from a thousand grandmothers.

Every night,

I must do penance

With a jagged speculum —

tear off bits of womb,

faded but slick

with dark juices.

Grope for vainglorious laughter

some stolen kisses

which were never

Farida Haque

Multimedia artist, writer, poet. ‘Celebrating other lives, I am a sparrow in the shadow of a rosebush...’