Weird Little Girl

An image of a steaming cauldron, with mud caked around its edge.

I grab the sticks. I grab the rocks, but only the red ones.

I find the mud and the fallen branch I used as a walking stick.

Wet ingredients first, then dry

I stir with my shoulders, almost my whole body.

No one's watching.

I think of the evil eye, I think of a key on a kite string.

There’s sand in your shoes, it’ll irritate

In my head I’m wise, I let an old cackle bounce around in my brain.

My skin is a costume concealing my age

I masquerade in a corset my organs seem to hate

Three handfuls of dirt from the baseball pitch, for flavor

Some white pebbles from the soil, for texture.

I’m somewhat winging it here, what should I sacrifice…

The lines in my palms are black, foundational. The staff in my grip leaves ants on my wrists.

The reward is the burning sensation. No grade should capture it.

Pill bugs map out nearby tree roots.

They’re the texture of pop rocks.

I push them away from my cauldron.

I flap like I’ve never sung in a cage. I walk like I’ve only heard of walking. I talk like I have no need to.

Stirring… stirring…

No trouble brewing.

My wrist burns. I lead the ants off by my arm hairs.

I don’t know any spells. This isn’t real

My brain floats around in space like an astronaut.

Oxygen tube would be the medulla, the ship is the motor system, engine is the energy.

I think about the physical properties of stars.

It’s egotistical to think we’re alone in the universe, but it still feels too vast. Sound can’t travel fast enough.

Do I have any spells in my notebook?

All of my school notes are decorated with feather studies. Shape, texture, anatomy. Properties of sparrow bones, memorized.

I crank my shoulder more, whatever I’m doing is almost over.

The only good witch is a dead witch

The good kids keeps their mouths zipped

Sunlight comes through the tree leaves in a slow drip.

I tip my head up and imagine the wind rushing under my knees.

In my dreams I can never get off the ground. I flap like I’ve never sung in a cage, but my bones weigh me down.

I think of an angel stereotype, hands interlocked.

I think of the evil eye, closed, colonized.

Much like you. White corset on brown bones.

Hair wild, but beautiful. Lucky to not be knotted.

I wished in something deeper than my stomach, that a knife comes and hollows out my bones. What’s the metaphor? What are you trying to bury in the mud?

My jeans are dirty, the bell will ring soon.

When I’m alone, I flap like a bird on an updraft.

When I’m old, I keep it locked up like a spring lock.

When I’m young, my head is filled with what could be

When I’m old, I only revisit my hopes in my dreams.

I dip a finger in to test.

I’m definitely anemic if this tastes good

It’s good enough.

I set the walking stick over it, in case any ants need to traverse the mud.

I go back, wash my hands.

Mind the dirt in your shoes, though

I beat the bell. I’m a pleasure to have in class. I don’t know what that means.

Don’t let anyone see your notebook,

But also…bury it in your backyard. I want to see it again someday.

An image of Nada Alami, a person with dark hair tied back. They wear a tank top and brightly colored shorts, and stand with their feet apart, looking at a large wooden sculpture.

21, they/them, Moroccan Muslim; Nada's been writing informally for as long as they knew about language. They're a student journalist at UCSD and they're in the early stages of trying to get published through means just like this one! When they're not bogged by chronic fatigue they enjoy philosophizing about gender, neurodivergency, and race on twitch.