read the instruction manual,
wrap the wound again, dig.
as the pile of soil starts to rise,
take more breaks. hydrate. walk
away from the tunnel if needed.
your mother needs you. she raises
a lantern. light thrown on the wall
spells through the dirt: asexuality
is not a disease.
follow the sheen. look down.
coats of cling film cover you.
peel back the layers to blend
with shades bestowed upon
your mother: your bearer,
a spring from beneath the earth.
glows on faces I could have known. Rings of shadow darken the crevice between shirt collar and skin. Captured mid-chant, the mouths of the white men open to black. Their torches move through my memory en masse. I stare back, razed. I was raised in Virginia. We remembered a classmate’s birthday every year of elementary school because he shared the date with Thomas Jefferson: founder of our state university, of America. Jefferson modeled the library after the Pantheon. The Rotunda’s circular chambers were to be the university’s academic heart. Its dome looms behind handheld flames, unmistakable.
Aria Pahari resides in Virginia and has a BA in English from Mount Holyoke College, where she was the recipient of the Millicent Allen Lyric Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Kajal Magazine and The Asexual Journal.