The spring before I returned to my mother’s house
I was singed.

It was the season of undressing
spring appeared violently
magnolias burst out of their bodies
bushes blossomed

spring was peeling back what winter tried to cover
and breathing it’s hot air on the last of the chill.

And in response
we laid vertically on striped blankets
and plastic beds, bean-shaped pools
and deserted beaches, creaky mattresses
and tile floors, always lying, always undressing.

I laid down straight on a quiet mattress with a nervous
boy as he undid each button like plucking petals
of a rose; delicate, apologetic.

Not once did I think
of my mother
the way she pulled down my hems
and hiked up my collars
her constant covering and
concealing of my body
her scorching stare
a disapproving burn.

Instead I was
two stories high,
in full bloom,
spilling seeds,
coming out
and through,
expanding and
taking in the space
I had allowed for my body
and growing it,


Asli Shebe
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, BFA Writing