This selection, chosen by guest editor Alyse Bensel, is from Another Way to Split Water by Alycia Pirmohamed, released by YesYes Books in 2022.
Meditation while Plaiting my Hair
I part my hair straight down the middle, a river on either side— in the past, someone shaped like me poured water from a metal carafe straight into my mouth, the echo of my river submerged in your river— lately, I read about storms all night because there is no lightning here; instead I see the wind pull down the tautness of trees and the swans at the lagoon part through the wreckage. Each one is another translation for love if love was more vessel than loose thread. Once, we sat poolside outdoors in Dar es Salaam and I chose survival over your body. Why is it I only ever see the night heron alone? I braid neatly together my hair, soaked by salt and the moss of a body I do not touch, the spine of a book left open on the page I forgot to bookmark, the spine of a book I left out in a storm, each of its rooms sliding into our margins, into all these tendrils of blank space—tell me, when did I let us splinter?
Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet based in Scotland. Her debut collection Another Way to Split Water was released internationally in 2022 by YesYes Books in the United States and Polygon Books in the UK. She is also the author of the pamphlets Hinge and Faces that Fled the Wind and the collaborative essay Second Memory, which was co-authored with Pratyusha. She is the co-founder of the Scottish BPOC Writers Network, a co-organiser of the Ledbury Poetry Critics Program, and she currently teaches on the MSt. Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. She is the recipient of several awards, including the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize, the 92Y Discovery Prize, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Award, and the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.
Alyse Bensel is the author of Rare Wondrous Things: A Poetic Biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (Green Writers Press, 2020) and three chapbooks. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, South Dakota Review, and West Branch. She serves as Poetry Editor for Cherry Tree and teaches at Brevard College, where she directs the Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference.