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It is Ramadan,

and my father twists his finger,

expelling black stardust

onto hordes of chopped strawberries and kiwis.

Spiciness permeates the air,

settling in the tiny indentations

that pepper the fruit, like the dark specks

I try to fish out of my heart.

My bowl clamors its protest,

the clean white surface now a pallid scowl.

I want no stardust.

Instead, I want raucous Fourth of July parties,

where glassy red infernos

puncture indigo pinpricks

in a room of celestial bodies,

where fresh milk seeps into potatoes,

choking them thickly

in cots of gelatin.

Mother tilts her mouth,

and wisps of her language

tiptoe gingerly towards mine.

Has Pakistan been made yet?

she asks me, and I imagine

Iqbal – a hand curling a mustache,

smoothing a bicycle chain.

Has Pakistan been made yet – no,

or have I been made yet,

borne from the seedlings

of a retired judge and future author,

tattering spines,

shattering bulbs,

sprinkling garrulous beads

over sweet brown brew.

I don’t dance much,

pin myself at the edges

of florid chants and jeweled tikkas.

When my friends talk to their mothers

their voices undulate against normativity,

trembling with hai and mai,

jellied like aspic.

My lips stutter against leather hides

that flog my tongue,

and simple words arrive

cleaved through like ruptured lanterns.

I wish now that I had grasped that stardust

tightly between my fingers,

pricking my palm with the spores

that penetrate my heart.

Perhaps I would have discovered

how to erode shame

from my natural habitat.

Ayesha Asad is a writer and college freshman with an eclectic variety of interests that include painting, reading, and singing. She lives in Texas, writes for her college newspaper, and hosts a radio news show. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, TeenInk, and Skipping Stones magazine.

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