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Your laughter always sounds like you are laughing at us. You are never willfully
cruel, we're sure. Your fingernails are understated and perfect except for a ragged
nail bed on your left thumb, which you constantly worry. We like to touch your
hair and are ecstatic when you allow us to at the late end of evenings, when your
elaborate bobby-pinned tower comes crashing down around us (no grabbing).

You abhor the sunlight and you’ve taught us to avoid it. We sleep as soundless,
motionless dolls, hands upon sheets, closed eyelids pointed heavenward, a
hundred thousand miles away from you. We don’t blame you for not coming
when we call. We stopped calling a very long time ago.

You point out our flaws like a kitchen maid picking gravel from a bowl of lentils.
We will be grateful for today’s carefully portioned dinners when our bodies grow
into tulip stems and the razor edges of our cheekbones cut straight to the souls of
those who dare gaze upon us. We are the soldiers of your future conquests. We
will be the sacrifice to your cause.

We will dream in secret of sucking on your thumb, of chewing on your cuticles
and hangnails, savoring the flawed parts of you, biting our way up your body and
under your skin, tearing through your ribcage, and curling ourselves into the hot
cradle of your meat and bones. After a while we will hatch as something new and
less beautiful, something wild.



Layla Al-Bedawi is a poet, writer, and bookbinder (among other things). English is her third language, but she's been dreaming in it for years. Born in Germany to Kurdish and Ukrainian parents, she currently lives in Houston, TX, where she co-founded Fuente Collective and champions experimentation, collaboration, and hybridity in writing an other arts. Her work is published in Liminal Stories, Mithila Review, Bayou Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere. Find her at laylaalbedawi.com and @frauleinlayla.
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