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Blacktown: Boyd Street II

The orange pavers
of our townhouse complex
glow with lunchtime
summer heat. Unfettered
by work, newly-wedded,
this is as early as we can
get out of the house.

The Indian family across from us
have their garage door open as usual
and two dark-skinned women,
one in jeans and an older one
 in a sari are browsing the racks
of colourful shalwar kameezs

I want to have a look at the clothes
too but I look Arab rather than Paki
with my light skin tone and hijab
and I don’t have the Urdu language
skills to make up for it – so I don’t

the black paint of my PT Cruiser
glints green in the sunlight. 
The driver’s door bulges
from the body of the car

the door is already unlocked
did we forget to –
a’udhu billah

 I open the door to empty chip
and biscuit packets, crushed
Red Bull and Sprite cans,
plastic bottles, tissues and papers
scattered all over the seats

I am more overcome by how much
I had stuffed in all the nooks of the car
than the fact that the car had been raided

this is Blacktown after all

and yet nothing had been taken.

I find the shell bracelet
I bought in Kota Kinabalu
on the passenger seat
and I put it on.

Even the open packet of Woolies’
coconut cream biscuits sits limply
and untouched in the cup holder.

When we pulled into our parking spot
after dinner in Auburn last night

I saw a thick black body
crawling on the brick wall,
terrifyingly close to our open
window with a flyscreen full of holes.

My husband ran in to shut the window
and I ran in so it wouldn’t jump on me
and neither of us locked the car.

I think of the pale-skinned Indian
guy who works at the local BP.
We hear the whine of his black
and white Ford parking
next to us most midnights

he has a blue sticker on his driver side
window that reads “your daughter
Likes this” with a little Facebook Like 

I think of the African family
next door, the kids in private school
uniforms and the father who is only
home some days, pulling up in a silver van
in the early hours of the morning,
when we wake for fajr

My husband goes inside to drop some coins
into the sadaqa box we made by carving
a slot into an old yoghurt tub.
I stuff everything back into the nooks
of the car. I get in and the leather seat
feels like cold, clammy skin.

Go to Maryam Azam's profile to read more poems