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Eating at me like a baby boy is knowing you never saw me

when I was once beautiful, when I was chiseled and fifteen and mindless.

All I was was snack bars and the pair of old True Religions

I found with my mom in that May, all pretty and retro like a digi-film camera photo

on Instagram. That was the summer of 2021, where I hated the mirror like a mother

and consumed the world like a teacher. I was all experiences and shiny and new,

as if I hadn’t been this town’s suicide girl months before. Grew up to be small and tall,

three inches over five feet and ruling the world with no voice

and no thoughts of my own. You love me at my worst now,

where I add an extra pump of brown sugar to the coffee and garnish the baklava

a bit heavily as if vendetta is all I know. I look aged and refurbished, beautiful

but not clean. I’ve lost the purity that summer gave me,

all hidden in skin and whatever is under it. I lose the drive to drive,

stuck at home and avoiding the I-95 getaway from these tiny neighborhoods

like it’s a monster. Sometimes I think furniture shopping would carve

out the old me, just as I did before returning to school that fall–

maybe I died in the Newark Ikea. I have no food in the fridge but I find a way

to fill my stomach farther than I think it should go, and if just a little bit

more clutter took up the house, I think I’d be a bit more right-mind.

Only two pumps to the two espresso shots, only one little spoon of pistachio

on the filo. Only a number, only calculations, only the cold whiff of the girl before me

who I want in the reflection. Does beauty really cost me my brain?


Nida Mubaraki (she/her) is an obsessive writer, reader, actress, and singer from New Jersey (amongst other locations). Her work, which stretches from poetry to plays to prose, has been recognized numerous times by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She works as the senior editor, Twitter head, and a contributor for The Empty Inkwell Review. When she isn’t pressing her pen to paper, you can find her performing onstage, writing film reviews on Letterboxd, baking vegan pastries for her friends, or reading in her room curled up with her cats and a cup of coffee. Email her at or find her on Twitter (@pennedbynida).

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