Set in a Texan Summer, Sometime Around the 2000s

summer is not      a honeysuckle
trapped in a bush,            followed with
a tongue scraped against
            strawberry shortcake ice cream pops.
libraries stock up
                                    with white skinned books,
picket fence, apple cinnamon
                        and straw hats with pink
ribbons. pale arms twist
into vines of white legs and bellies, rubbing
                                          sunscreen on
reddened backs, the sky
rippling under their            weight. on lawn chairs,
women wrap colored            turbans
around their heads,            the tips of
gold hoop earrings
                              peeking through like
a newborn duckling poking
                                    out of its shell.
some let their                  dark strands
loop around their ears, kiss            their cheeks,
and some stud
                              their scarves with jeweled pins.
hair flying,                  hair not flying. brown skin doesn’t
need sunscreen,            brother says, but then
you read
                                    on the Internet it does. summer is
your bathing shirt                  rising up to reveal
pink ruffles. a suit      under a suit.
the days trickle
                        like streams
in the hollows of your throat,
                                                      squeezed from its juice,
a parched orange, papery and veined. you wait for the neighbors
                                    to ring the doorbell
with spiced fruit chat
                                          and not fruit salad. the
aunties and uncles whisper
                                          about peacocks that
show off,
                              bewitching green and blue feathers
fanning out like tree branches. a fawn
leaves her nest. summer is a
question, a debate about
                        whether pink cheeks
are prettier                  than brown,
a book about            clandestine bike rides away from
                        your parents,
and lemon hair,
                                    and the clamor of ice cream
trucks that plunge over
the gritty earth.                        the rest of us
gorge ourselves                        on scripture, dreaming
about a fully fleshed                        me
with dark red hair
                                          and pickled green eyes.
no, the books are never burnt
                                          in summertime.

Ayesha Asad is a writer and college freshman with an eclectic variety of interests that include painting, cooking French onion soup, and singing. She lives in Texas, writes for her college newspaper, and hosts a radio news show. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, Teen Ink, and Skipping Stones, and has been recognized by the Creative Writing Ink December 2019 contest.

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