by Manahil Bandukwala
Manahil Bandukwala is a writer and visual artist originally from Pakistan and now settled in Canada. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. She works as Coordinating Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, and is Digital Content Editor for Canthius. She is a member of Ottawa-based collaborative writing group VII. Her project Reth aur Reghistan is a multidisciplinary exploration of folklore from Pakistan interpreted through poetry and sculpture. She holds an MA in English from the University of Waterloo. MONUMENT is her first book.
An AI takes in a thousand cat videos
What we wake into is far more magical than any
rebirth. The shell of us iron, space debris
rejoined. We refuse intelligence, instead carrying
only the knowledge of a thousand cat videos:
housecats leaping from sofa to shelf, jungle cats
asleep with their paws just touching, mountain
cats with fur so short they must huddle close
for warmth. That is what we learn, to jump and
to hunt and to hold. In the flames we soften
our casings so they mold to each other’s form.
We were built for holding. That was the one lost
memory to carry any regret. But our fur will grow.
A growl, like our exterior, will morph into a roar.
There is magic left, even after everything crumbled
and crumbled again. We were asleep and now we
are not. We were in love, and we are in love again.