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The Length between July and October

for Sara Akant

is a poem, knees on wooden floors, the sun like a porchlight upon your hands. Baba-girl, the tree made a silhouette against the house. I counted the branches in the shadow. The morning is nothing more than your mother’s voice and the bedsheets imprinting your body like fresh snow. Even this I learn from you: the perfect mouth of a beer bottle. Hair cut over a trashcan. Habibti, give me the good mushrooms. Walk me to the edge of the driveway, show me the rumor that lives inside the lungs. Baba-girl knows her suffering will end and so baba-girl loves her suffering. We paint our lips uterus-pink. We make lists. We buy underwear the color of the summer, of the ocean, of the dead.


HALA ALYAN is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in Poetry, The New York Times and elsewhere. Her poetry collection Atrium was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry, while her latest collection, Hijra, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and published by Southern Illinois University Press. Both her debut novel, Salt Houses (winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize) and her newest collection, The Twenty-ninth Year, were published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Her website can be found at, and she resides in Brooklyn.


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