Sweet, Sweet Culture

& the girls / twist their hips / to Shakira songs / faces undone / driving past Interstate /
with muddled lips / drops of zam-zam / pinking the horizon / loud in open mics / men laughing /
saying you ladies scare me / reading books that teach them / to hate their brown skin / pilled
white mirrors / kohl-rimmed eyes / purple lipstick / & pale foundation / hijabs pinned / no, they
don’t poke us / boys in Adidas slides / saying yo, Tarek / entrepreneurs / theater kids at night /
gulping rooh afza / & fruit chat / skipping curfew / praying in white kufis / & gray thobes /
people think are dresses / shoulder to shoulder / fundraisers a precipice / of the mosque /
bleeding MCAT problems / perfect immigrant kids / parents with car dealerships / & holed out
sandals / bright blue jilbabs & dupattas / mothers who drink chai / & teach children to multiply /
kids who cut hair at barbershops / after school / the congregation / that makes rounds on
YouTube / & strides past army-clad protesters / guns drawn & flaunted / assimilate or get out /
cosmic bodies unstable / mocked on TV / & the cars who cut through the wave / & push it back /
the man baked in sun / holding a sign / we the people / are greater than fear / a body swelled
with rain / & daisies / a confrontation / of decay

—Ayesha Asad (from Menacing Hedge)