Ayesha Asad

Blackout Nerves

                     our bodies lock & stiffen into

silver molds, ironed-out
                     icicles, freedom land where a blacked-out

swelling reigns,
                     where your hand clenches

around the salt of a shining sea;
                     night-long ruin borne across broken tides

of slumbering heat.
                     For this night to exist

it must be passed from family
                     to family, dragon’s breath

limping out each daughter’s

cold tongue blue, lumped,
                     set aflame by the sound of doorbell—

& the mother, rushing to answer
                     in her gray coat that remembers,

if not the wizened, frozen apartment
                     of a decade ago,

then the pattern of a new city,
                     laid bare like a half-finished blueprint,

or the light it never saw, slow song
                     of a city whimpering

with hot rain, music filtered in
                     by heavy sunlight,

& her own warm body, hardened like baked clay,
                     eyes eclipsed by the weight

of seagulls sweeping above—city shimmering
                     in radiant heat, in the sweet-smelling

sigh of its limbs uncoiled. The penalty
                     of inexperience is a law

I can’t remember. So instead I gulp water in this beautiful
                     place. Swallow the cold

that led me here, under layered blankets,
                     waiting for each star-shaped

rime crystal to spread throughout
                     my network of nerves,

landing first at my center, my heart,
                     leaping gently like a young bird

learning her first flight.



Ayesha Asad is from Dallas, Texas. Her work has been included in the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology, and her writing appears or is forthcoming in PANK, DIAGRAM, Cosmonauts Avenue, Sundog Lit, Menacing Hedge, Kissing Dynamite, DREGINALD, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by Creative Writing Ink Journal and the Robert Bone Memorial Creative Writing Prize. Currently, she studies Literature and Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas. In her free time, she likes to dream.