by Ayesha Asad
I never learned to love ginger-water,
sweetened with honey to conceal
the bitterness that pierced my tongue
with thin needles. I took the words
spread out of my teacher’s mouth
and filtered them, drop by drop, imagining
the seedy grit lacquering the bottom
of a wooden bowl. when children’s eyes are
who is responsible?
the infants who are cragged with bones,
poking out thinly from their brown bellies, bathed in
crimes they’ve never heard of.
the dull eyes that sprout into
honeyed summer blossoms at the voice of
gandhi’s parched skin in prison. the papooses bleeding
on the underside of their tiny feet, dusted with
their homeland. the kids
who convulse in the chlorine arms of women who are not their
mothers. should they be swaddled
in white cloth, sprinkled with clear water then clogged with dirt? should the
darkened, obedient grass slither around them, tightening the
hollows of their throat, char their skulls, when it is love
they seem to need most?
cold sermons sometimes preach
the flesh gnawed from pale bone,
the trembling glass of texas window-panes, fingers melted into candle wax,
blackened skin dripping like water pressed against glass rims,
of a beautiful woman,
like a serpent that rattles against silent stone floors,
a deep well that burns
red-hot, baked, clay withering under its glare.
if the homeless
teenager, plucked from her family like a feather, because she liked lip-
stick and doves and darlings and jewels or whatever the poems say
asks for a sip
of milk and honey, what would –
Ayesha Asad is a freshman at the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in Literature and Biology. Currently, her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Santa Clara Review, Blue Marble Review, Eunoia Review, Skipping Stones Magazine, and TeenInk and has been recognized by the Creative Writing Ink December 2019 contest.