neighboring bodyflowers


2 orabi st, cairo. third floor

my mother tells my sister and i to draw the blinds nice and tight before we


i tell her i’ve seen auntie jamila give baby a bath from across the street. and uncle khalid from the second floor always hangs his undies out to dry. mama did you know that the lebanese couple four floors up have tattoos on their arms? i’ve seen em when they step out to the balcony to water their lavender. and also i—


my mother says that

this is different that

i am a young woman that

my body

is a

beautiful secret.


at thirteen i felt


like a lotus flower

blossoming in


— ∇ —

318 E 15th st, new york city. eighth floor 

neighbors here are frag


often the lady on the

fifth floor across the street

extends a slim arm

through her red-framed window

a cigarette dangling

from her fingers.


i have also seen

shoulders. elbows. half-faces

blocked by cellphones and lovers


and the man in the

building to my left

enjoys his rooftop in the snow

but even then

all i see?

hooded figure





i dance

for the man in the snow


for a drag on the lady’s cigarette


for myself. for my body. this body. THIS BODY


that is not

secret. or whisper. or gentle spring breeze


it is winter

i am thunder


outward upswing i swear this tastes like growth.


at nineteen i feel


like a full




in an endless stretch of gardenlimb.


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