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  • Kohl, and: Pride
  • K. Eltinaé (bio)


Is it still called asylum?when you race amid nightfalls

setting camp under your own dust,half dreaming you’re a zebra

because the marrow in your boneswon’t settle for a land?

And what about the fearstrangers paint across faces

whenever you coughor share a path?

Who will defend the mapslaid to rest from the truth by lies?

Who will trace the kohl for our eyes?


My baby will not speak.Twice a week outside a room

I watch him draw a pastI’ve buried in hues of purple, blue, and green.

Deep-set eyes and hollow cheeksthe doctors make no sense of.

Nests of broken hairand nails float in the water

and will not forgive mebut he listens and understands why.

My baby won’t test his feet on the ground,breaking hearts and plastic wheels that push too hard.

I dread the morning he’ll find his wingsand drift the way I had to. [End Page 329]

K. Eltinaé

K. Eltinaé is a Sudanese poet of Nubian descent, whose work has appeared in World Literature Today, Solidago, Rigorous, New Contrast, and Poetry Potion, among others. He is the first-place winner in Poetry in the 2018 Muftah Creative Writing Competition. More of his work and public performances can be found at and



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