poetry by Leslie Joy Ahenda

CONTENT WARNING: sexual harassment & racial slur. Please read at your own risk.



follow me
the evening waits/the ground holds

walk with me
past geoluminescent highway lines/past outstretched knuckles of some lecherous man
or another
when he grabs your wrists
tell him:
                                     you cannot touch me—

                                     i am not here
                         to be touched
                         by one such as you
                         call me “gorgeous” as you like
                         call me “sexy” and “slut”
                         and “nigger bitch”
                         i can’t hear you—
                         i am not here
                         to be spoken to by you

leave your footprints boldly in the concrete
as it sinks into sand to welcome you
home, and we’re walking on sand now
did i mention?



after it happened
i bathed in the disrupted dirt
and stopped drinking


gripped my own wrist and shivered
and tasted erosion on the midnight air



i lowered myself into the earth
she felt friendlier from below

i let my ghost crawl back up to walk around in my feet
as, empty, i lay snug
with the fossils and the larvae

i watched igneous stones erupt and fall to cover me
and i laughed:
this deep they could only melt back to magma
this deep they could only warm me



sometimes my wrists crack and my knuckles bleed

i don’t mind

sometimes stones sail away from death valley.

there is no harm in throwing rocks into glass


they will only disintegrate back into sand.

ahenda headshot.jpg

Leslie Joy Ahenda

Leslie Joy Ahenda is a Calgary-based poet studying at the University of Victoria. She is an editorial intern on the Malahat Review poetry board. She is a recipient of the Philip Pickering Award for Poetry and the Haig-Brown Award for Conservation Writing, and her poetry is published in NōD Magazine and Poetry is Dead.