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.
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.