Amir Rabiyah


Under the Knife       


In the fall, at the start of a new semester, you brushed

by me, designer skinny jeans, body waxed bleached


linoleum floors, no more traces of stubborn sideburns.

You wore a tiny new nose. We used to joke about


how we could be sisters. We sat in hallways, cross-

legged, against the cool of lockers. I did not hear


how metal spoke to a distant cousin, sterilized-  

I did not know of your alchemy of ruin.


Those storage units of secrets, keepers of classes,

folded notes & magazine cutouts whispered


insults. You pinched excess skin & sighed at

your profile, said: I don’t want this mountain on my face.


During break, your family paid a gloved man to hammer,

to slice, & bloody “Little Ararat.” He flattened a jutting


peak to acceptable. When you returned, reconstructed,

smelling of burnt hair & perfume, I had to look twice.


You reminded me of home. How could I erase you?


You spent the rest of high school ignoring me

& I forgave you. I was old enough to understand this:


To stop, to look into my eyes, meant to risk reflection.  

Originally published in 580 Split.