A Meal with Childhood Wrappings, by Ayesha Asad

To show me how salmon scales
can be stripped, glistening & wet,
grayish skin tightly wrapped around a bed
of orange flesh, you pulled out a knife
ground from silver, carved to gut & flay.
I think of our history, brimming with
dismay, suffocated under barrels of
codfish eyes & oily brine. Perhaps
when you were a boy, all wide-brimmed
mouth & naked, shivering eyes, you saw
how easy it was to succumb to violence.
A magic swallowed by family norms,
gasped & stuttered through aunties’
lips. Then, their hands – & were you
like the fish then, cutting through the
glittering water, harmonized with
a body you rose up to meet?
Did you ever scrub water into clay,
scraping your skin into petals only to be
hooked, swollen, pierced until your tongue
turned purplish-red, till your throat
choked on its own music? I think of
the salmon in the sea & the salmon on
our dinner plates & the water
swimming in you. All life, all sea –
all buried into human. After dinner,
we make tourniquets
from fork tines, trying to staunch
the blood that seeps through,
pruned from our pale past.


Published 21st of May 2020


About Ayesha Asad

Ayesha Asad is a freshman at University of Texas at Dallas. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Reunion: The Dallas ReviewMenacing Hedge, Santa Clara Review, Blue Marble Review, Green Blotter, Rue Scribe and elsewhere. Her writing has been recognized by the Robert Bone Memorial Poetry Prize.