Nazli S. Pearl

tip top

When I was tip
top I thought I felt
like a man but it’s best
not to think of your own death
as a kind of privilege or improvement.
I am not a man. Though I say this more
as a habit of belief than as a fact. I could call
myself something else. When the sky thickens
and the dog snores match the sound of blood purpling
in the vast underbelly of the sky. When the rains batter
and shut long eyelashes over the windowglass.
This time of year when time has accrued like something
to be paid back in minutes and hours and days and everyone has the same thought now
I look nothing like I should. I could call myself something else. I sit so still.

O Allah, O this shit again.
This time of year I am so laden with time, filthy with it, fucked with it. My girly youth sliding off, perfect as an unuttered prayer. This time of year I’m walking higgedly piggedly after it throwing words words words after it beseech beseech beseech after it on my back then hunched forward like an old man after it and it is not funny not funny at all but the trees erupt in wild applause, beat their hands red and gold and right off. And when I yell back do I look thankful I am calling the leaves hands again and I am turning my big dumb face towards the sky and I am opening my big dumb mouth like I want red lips a mouthful of blood. Like I want another kind of prayer. Like I want another mouth full of blood.

Nazli S. Pearl is a Muslim-American from the deep south. Her work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the Fairy Tale Review. She now lives in California.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí