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By Sophia Al-Banaa

southern drawls disguise
spitting words

the earth sighs
water melon cut

tobacco drenched saliva.

its breath loosening chunks of spanish moss

open by bare hands
pink flesh lined in white spills black seeds onto the countertop.

a man takes out a red handkerchief to wipe away

i dreamed of erasing every pulsing linoleum Piggly Wiggly from memory
plucking away the y’all embedded in each sentence & crevice

of my brain.

at sunset,
cicadas sing a lullaby,
lemons growing beside the splintered porch blister & rot on cracked concrete.

one magnolia holds my childhood

echoed through the voice of a great uncle asking if my father built bombs in his madrisa a land of reddened sand

far from the scattered sharp seashells here anticipating vacationing feet.

i drank coke floats in haunted diners,
vanilla ice cream clouding a cup of crystalized brown carbonation a girl,
unaware of cavities blooming between her front teeth.


By Sophia Al-Banaa

in a shop of cherry blossom scented lotions

& greasy hands, a saleswoman holds my face

between perfectly manicured fingers:

“your beauty is that of an Arab lady.”

she sees through my mourned memories

in a room of polished women,

skin free from scars.

my aunt rubbed nivea crème

into her henna stained palms,

never wearing makeup, her wrinkled

cheeks carrying the deaths of husbands

& her son’s dreams that fell like tea leaves

sinking in the scratched cups

she sipped from quietly

sighing              ya Allah,

& i always wondered

if she wanted more

than what prayers grant.  

Sophia Al-Banaa SPP’19 is a Kuwaiti American, Muslim woman who has spent her life between Kuwait and South Carolina but now lives in Philadelphia, where she is a social worker and therapist.

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