Bonfire

Anonymous

I dream of summer camp,
Days upon weeks spent doused in lake water,
beetle legs intertwined in my lashes,
Fraying friendship bracelets snaking up my wrists and ankles
The nights leading up to paradise will be strenuous, no doubt,
I’ll have a few scabs from bleaching my skin,
having disintegrated each square inch of
muddied
yellow.

My nest of sepia locks will be snipped at shoulder’s length, and slicked back, knotted to the
apex of my head.
I’ll smile with no longer squinting eyes,
the almonds I once had now replaced with veiny, chlorinated, marbles.

Lacy freckles will be the only blemishes to my face,
no longer will I be stained by the puddles of dirt that are scattered over my body,
serving as a reminder I would have remained a grimier counterpart,
had I not
traded in my Bermuda shorts for mini skirts,
my faded hand-me-down tees for camisoles and crop tops.
I was never devoted enough to earn my right to stand up against injustices for ‘my’ people.
Our drab, baggy clothing was our only similarity.

Forgive me Allah,
I will be long gone to summers only dreaming of Christmastime,
letting crisp pieces of sin crackle under my teeth at breakfast.
This is a more suited life for me;
I wasn’t shackled beyond my blooming hope to be tethered to my faith,
and after years of names aside my own tossed at me,
I’ll accept the ones that haven’t sunk past regard.
Turn over a new leaf.

My father said
a nickname would ruin the beauty of my label,
that patchwork to the syllables would force the word to stumble clumsily out of his mouth,
putting his own work on the stitching to shame.
I think only of how Their tongues won’t trip,
remembering me for once with a rendition they have gifted to me instead.

When I look into the mirror,
I’ll see my stomach flatter,
I will have lost the weight of never proving myself worthy to join in rising above hatred toward
something I’m meant to be.

My feet,
in Converse high tops,
will stay rooted on the ground.
I’ll sit by the fire pit,
letting Ramadan tumble into the flames for Lent
losing Halal markets in the ashes for pork,
tossing my broken ‘mother tongue’ under charring logs for improvised French.
The odor of singed coarse hair from my animalic limbs will burn off, in exchange for the courage
to bare arms
I’ll gain glances of agreement for my background as it slowly shifts in the midst of the haze, no
longer receiving confusion from others, and myself behind closed doors.

I’ll find shade from the heat of the fire under the confidence in an umbrella title of ‘faith’ over
shrinking in guilt from the thought of claiming Islam as my own.

After all, to get here, I clicked with ease the box marked White, rather than hovering over Asian
and reluctantly landing on
“Other.”

I’ve contorted myself to fit in that box,
I won’t be caged, stereotyped or chained by their tags.

Finally,
those tags will be snipped.
And I’ve always wanted
Jet-Puffed marshmallows
In my s’ mores.

Jesus Lambs

Visual Art by: Ianna Williams, 20, she/they