poetry

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi

IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE WE EAT CAKE 

IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE WE EAT CAKE 


& the ocean no longer speaks of despair. We sit unafraid

with our toes in water, gather every crumb with bare hands.

Fourth of July: the Chesapeake’s mouth dribbles with blood 

as fireworks whip & sizzle onto algae. You’re the life 

of the party, blowing out candles for the birthday girl, 

stealing her wishes. You wish for rain, for joy, to end a drought

but here joy is abundant, drowned in bestselling rap albums 

& barbecue gossip. In childhood, we used to sit with our 

backs to the water, hooked projectors up with a fifty foot 

extension cord. Coming of age movies taught us tenderness, 

rejecting normalcy. So we took our fishing rods at night 

& tried to catch eels. Each time one was hooked by the mouth, 

we greedily reached for the body trembling in fear. 

Too slippery, they disappeared with a plunk, hidden by pulses 

of darkness. In this alternate universe we eat our cake 

without shaking hands; there’s nothing to be anxious about. 

There is enough oxygen for both us & fish; we can sacrifice 

cake crumbs and throw them into the bay—it’s small offering. 

It’s the least we could’ve done. We could’ve done more.

"To Be Clear..." by Salonee Verma

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com.