Sarah Ghazal Ali

Self-Portrait as Epiphany

I thought myself

a child. The river revealed me

a basket. Within, a doomed girl. Grew

& groomed. When came the bush,

I knew to burn. To shear errant tongues

probing the cage.

Mother sang of deliverance. Father prayed

for a son. I revised myself

a daughter. Renounced duty. Rolled

stones down my throat.

In a dream, the angel reveals me a book.

I learn myself grime

among false gods. Unashamed,

I cramp. Between my legs

a clot. From a clot

I’ll make men. Hollow

myself holy.

Nothing laughs like me.

Silent, brutish—a woman

baring her teeth.

Sarah Ghazal Ali is the author of Theophanies, selected as the Editors' Choice for the 2022 Alice James Award, and forthcoming with Alice James Books in January 2024. A 2022 Djanikian Scholar, her poems appear in POETRY, American Poetry Review, Pleiades, the Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is currently the editor of Palette Poetry and a Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University. Learn more at