WHEN I BIT INTO THE PLUM THE ANTS FLOODED OUT
I’ll dress myself sick as a red candle. I’ll keep my hair long for you to yank. Slink myself in black. Silk panties. Bangles as bright as India. This body is yours more than mine. The trees are broken into temples, one slow noose to the next. My breasts smell like cigars and perspiration, you have sparrowed into my arteries: heartbeat, dial tone. You remember, yes, the seeds we ate by the handful, the Mexican sun finding us wherever we went. The world doesn’t want loyalty, so what’s the point of asking? The heart spoils the body and the body spoils the air. I stole your name and at night, alone, I whisper it into the dark: the vowels none of my great-grandmothers could’ve said.
Hala Alyan's "When I Bit Into the Plum the Ants Flooded Out," and "Step Eight: Make Amends" can be read in the print edition of The Arkansas International 3.
Hala Alyan is a Palestinian-American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in Guernica and other literary journals. She is the author of three collections of poetry; the most recent, Hijra, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series. Her debut novel, Salt Houses, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.