Gift

Featured Illustration: Rocío Montoya

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Mirrors bleed a blinding white,

light fractured over fractured features.

Wrapped across my body,

I see

white ribbon dyed into splotchy carmine,

crisscrossing into makeshift thigh highs

and babydoll lingerie.

The slope of a neck and the fat of baby cheeks—

curves are a tantalizing blessing,

the Lord’s gift for lecherous hands.

All I’ve ever known was the God-given curve,

the line that refused to remain still—

the stretch of my mother’s stomach,

the swell of my pubescent breasts,

and the thickness of my thighs.

What a blessing, they say,

wrapping their arms around my waist,

twenty-five—no, twenty-four inches

their hands reaching for bronzed flesh

hourglass—no, pear body

and picking apart fresh wrapping paper.

Girls are gifts, we are gifts,

gifts you bury under hot sand and stone,

delicate souls, withering souls we are.

And when their stares dig into our flesh,

when their fingers fiddle with the carefully tucked pieces

and graze over the sharp edges,

the box groans and breaks into a fit,

falling apart in their hold.

In the mirrors, I see distortion—

the residual fingerprints left behind on silk skin,

the tainted body of a spoiled gift

unwrapped and left to wilt in the storage room.

Madeeha Anjum

(She/Her) An avid reader, writer, activist, and lover of Jasmine tea. Follow more writing on her Instagram, @mariazpoetry

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