Were there a way to strip me
clean of desire, how free I’d be,

the rain’s grit or
prophecy no longer
plain. But my skin is scarred

by its own burn—
by a blessing; a curse.
See my birthmark

splattered across my calves
like the map of another
country, like ink-blots marking me

a woman desirous of everything
she can see or touch—persimmons
bursting in alleys, crushed,

slick with their own juices.
Each merchant’s pyramid of
cinnamon, lips laced with sweet

dust—will this craving
or sustain me?

– Dilruba Ahmed


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