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We are a church of want.
Before, I was different. A little Muslim girl admiring those big church hats, yellow and flared at the brim. Those big dresses stuffed with prickly undergarments. Greased foreheads and shiny perms for the offering.
It is Easter Sunday, and I don’t care. I don’t care about the holiday, or about myself.
I can look through a man. I can lift lips with eyes, and hands. I can fly through the window, while sitting on the bed. Where are you?
When are we taught to blame ourselves for men who cannot see our waters? Men who cannot swim.
There is no light here.
I am on the bed, intoxicated. I can only see in pastels. The color of old women’s dresses in churches of heat and denial.
I never learned to believe.
I was listening to Summer Walker
when I got the urge to see you again
got the urge to look at you
and be with you
be abused by your smile
Got the urge to get on IG
and watch you rap Spanish into hype crowds
who have no idea you are a narcissist
and don’t care if the woman says she doesn’t
think it’s a good idea to do it right now
just get it wet
I was listening to Summer Walker
who always makes me want to get in
an unhealthy relationship again
send text messages that get ignored again
until a week later when you want to see me again
just to twerk in a bright bedroom
in a skintight black one-piece
as you watch and kiss me quickly again
Summer Walker, who says she’s still over it
and I am too
But I’m lonely and depressed and spinning
with a scar down my stomach
on my soul
This music reminds me of my boss bitch days
like that time I baked you bbq chicken
then fucked you on my couch
had you beggin’ to come back
I wanna be a boss bitch right now
but Summer Walker sings of lost love & bitterness
and the sting and pain of you and your force
burns deep, a toxic cypher I perform alone
So this Saturday night, listening to Summer
thinking of you/
you ain’t-shit nigga and your rap career
and your lips
and your cruelty and cold silence
Just let me just lay here and do nothing
cause boss bitches get lonely too
I was wearing a pink knit sweater the night I had sex in Queens. It was a hopeful pink, a reborn pink for a dirty city. A pink like baby shampoo or proper seduction. It was a light pink, like rose powder.
We walked past a gutted car. The car was torn apart. Its hood, an empty hole, and doors taken for ransom. I wondered why it was still there in this residential neighborhood. He said they kept taking its parts.
We walked past brick houses and dead grass. I never see many houses like this in New York City. The wind was sharp and unrepentant. I wondered about Queens.
Inside, the walkways are wide and half-circle. We are in a home owned by this man’s father whom he doesn’t speak to. We are in a house made in another time, with a wall covered in square-plate mirrors, decorated with gold.
After sex, I walk through this naked house, cold between my hands, and stare into this wall of gold mirrors. I cannot see myself as I did before. My hair is a cotton puff of exhaustion and I don’t know where my underwear are.
In a bedroom, there he lays, wrapped in a quilt, and my pink sweater lays on the floor, forgotten but bright enough to be noticed. Rose powder thrown to the side. Whatever innocence I thought I had, now gutted.
Nijla Mu’min is an award-winning writer and filmmaker from the East Bay Area. Her work is informed by poetry, photography, fiction, and dance. Named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2017, she tells stories about Black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities. Her debut feature film, Jinn, premiered at the 2018 South By Southwest Film Festival, where she won the Special Jury Recognition Award for Screenwriting. She’s written for the Starz series Blindspotting, the Apple series Swagger, and directed episodes of HBO’s Insecure, Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Apple’s Swagger, and OWN’s Queen Sugar. She is currently developing her second feature film Mosswood Park, as well as a debut collection of poetry and prose essays. Her poems have been featured in Aunt Chloe: A Journal of Artful Candor, the Temz Review, and Mythium Literary Journal. She is a 2013 graduate of CalArts MFA Film Directing and Creative Writing Programs, and a 2007 graduate of UC Berkeley, where studied in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People Program.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.