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After Aracelis Girmay


Last night, all night

The dream, the dead

Battalion, four sisters

Lined up like mice, their

Biting teeth as blades.

(wailing) Marye turned

Pale as milk. TV lullabied

Fana to sleep, Nasret sucking

Strawberry flesh. I snuck

Orange juice until it dribbled

Down my chin; myself, bitter

And acrid sister. & saw the

Honeysuckles turn green in

Summer, neighbors moving

In and out. I was small and

Noncompliant. My furrowed

Teacher asked me this: Who

Wrote your dream-stories? & spun

Your fingers into lead, & cut your

Hair, bore you the leader?

My sister said it was other sister

Who wefted each dream. I said

I know & called to the rest of them

Like small guards, crawling. I spoke

To the bobbing heads and reveled in

Words they would never know. & yet they

Did, somehow. They grew larger

After all, & the sisters I call to tell

The dream will not remember anything,

& us outgrowing memory together.



I birth my name; abandon it

In search of my own.

Spit out the taste –

Bitter, and offer the good

To you, or anyone who wants it.

Let the feel of it lull in my arms

Sing a song of songs, desperate

Daughter of deadened sea.

Soon eyeing a new one

Fitting snugly at the waist

Not slipping or falling.

Misnomered name

That sticks to mottled skin

Like Rahel or Mai, sleekly.

Humming wiha, wawa,

How I first called for water.

Namesong that echoes

Dark as ashen tents. Like perfume

Poured out. Weeping

All exhausted and cow-eyed,

I collapsed it.

Leah Woldai is an undergraduate student at Emory University (23C) studying History and English/Creative Writing. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of Emory Blackstar* Magazine and a former writer for the Emory Wheel Editorial Board. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories, painting, and learning new recipes.

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