Asma Al-Masyabi is a poet, writer, artist, and student born and raised in Colorado. She is a Scholastic Silver Medal Poetry winner with publications in Taking Root: The Girls Write Now 2022 Anthology, The Ilanot Review, Up North Lit, Navigating the Maze and more. She’s currently pursuing an associate degree in English, after which she plans to major in creative writing.
There is a game my father likes
to play while driving. He asks me,
one-hundred, two-hundred, three-
hundred years ago, what
was here? What did this street
look like? And we imagine and
of course we do not really know. Sometimes
we envision farmlands, or
nothing. See thin houses conceding
to dirt roads, or
nothing. Pretend a water tower.
just grasslands stretching beneath the azure
jaw of mountains. We reflect the bones
that fertilized this soil, bodies
that lived and died before we
blinked, eyes towards the sun. Sometimes we wonder
about the stolen-
from. If they traveled where our tires
now tread, if we are running over ghosts
of homes, speeding through space they
once freely breathed. We are clueless
to the footsteps, cannot squint
the outline of history. In silence, we look
towards the horizon. Unseeing, but willing
RUMINATIONS ON THE GOLDEN STATE
HOW TO BE SELFISH AND CLAIM A LAND AS YOUR OWN
Be born from it.
your first breath from its air.
Keep breathing, lungs
taking; taking; taking.
Live through a transfusion
of stories and blood. For
some, it is stories alone.
For others, only blood.
One or each, they spill over,
the insides of your skin.
It is all that has existed.
Or, it has existed the most
and you’ve grown to it.
Watch with reverence
the passing of clouds,
hold them loosely
in your palms.
Be still in its presence.
Watch all the things
you’ve never known and
fit them between your jaws.
Ache for it, or find your toes
tunneling into the soil.
It is yours.