Back to Issue Forty-Seven



for Abida “Abby”

Anytime I need to feel like myself I know where to knock my hairy head
back, string taut by your two front teeth
chin up like an operating table, to realign the
dulled edge of my knife’s eye. Knots that take the ingrown with them.
Every Paki in St.Louis knows that you can

fix us. Our faces a thread apart. You whisper, کسی کو مت بتانا, that white
girl got a nose ring like us and I bet her mother said nothing. I know
how mad your mother was when you got it. Only aunty to tell me to do what
I wanted. The only aunty I trusted since I was
just thirteen and my
Khala thought I could be more beautiful. Turn my caterpillar into wings.
Lately these brows are all I have of home. To break and
mend and break again. You know how I like it,
not too thin like the other Asian, you keep the South on my forehead, thick.

Of course everything is okay and my mother is doing well. Before I leave you
pray a quick surah for me to find a good man to marry. At the
queer halloween party I tell the girls I go to you, off Manchester next to Mideast, to get
right. Alone in a too Midwest city, I crave the orchestra of your delicate hands,
sounds of pulled hair like bow to string. I land wherever you end my arch,
that’s where I go. Your leather chair at the back of the nail salon where between my

upper lip and your hands are the
voices of white women who want your magic. This is the only pain I never get sick of
wincing. My only delicate beauty is yours. Between your every
X is an old ingrown limb ready for execution. In
your chair, for ten dollars, the sweet
ذائقہ of being remade by the hands of a woman.

Diya Abbas is a first generation Pakistani poet from the Midwest. They were named the 2022 George B. Hill Poetry Prize winner. Her work can be found or forthcoming in Foglifter, The Offing, Emerge Literary Journal, BAHR Mag, and others. Diya is currently studying Creative Writing and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison through the First Wave program. More of their work can be found at

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