Layla*

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I am tired of the love poems Qays keeps
tracing for me in the sand. What a luxury,
to roam mad with love, be punished only
with a tender name – Majnun. The world will always
forgive the foolishness of men. I’m the one who endures
the weight of another in the night. I remind myself
to cup my breasts and say they are mine. My thighs
mine, mine. Sometimes I tell him No, not tonight,
I’m bleeding again, and he believes me.
It’s easy to believe anything about a body
that splits itself open and survives,
produces milk the next day. If I keep still
long enough, I hear the music inside
my veins; it sounds like women, singing.

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