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— Sarah Fathima Mohammed

We were born rootless. Our bodies fell
from someplace we could not name

to earth, bones soft and oily—rain collecting
right above the inside of our elbows. God

didn’t give us last names, only relics
from another life: copper buckets, spools

of dark smoke, a river where we waded
and waited and learned the word

for clean. We were born rootless.
When our hair curled

against the ground, we pieced strands
back together as letters. Words wilted

in our mouths, then bloomed—soft smatters,
fertile vowels whisked into quiet

accents. We were born rootless.
We didn’t know

the rules, so we brought the sun
to our bellies, cooked

our faces in light.

Read more from Issue No. 25 or share on Facebook and Twitter.