Teatime and Boiled Ginger

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

mother teresa.

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,

all because

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 –

He say?


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.


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