content warning: disease, mentions of assault

The Big Sea

by

Sarah E. Azizi

Down the hazy sky the sun
slid. My baby’s squeals punctured
the space between sand

& water. Dark blonde curls flew,
chubby hands splashed frothy
waves as she frolicked, decked out

in spotted ladybug wetsuit. Eight months
later her face would be rounder
than a dodge ball, w/ red flaking lips

& one eye crossed. She’d be bald
before Halloween. I cannot fathom hope
surfaces for a creature that cannot articulate

its pain. My dearest friend tells me, after
a childhood of assault, any physical
discomfort her addled brain interprets

as a new constant, a body suspended
like a fish hooked & dangling. Acted upon.
I cannot recount how many needles stung

my daughter’s flesh. Her eyes would roll
back in despair. Let me stay w/ her there—
toes wiggling in sand, neck arched to take in expanse

of sky & birds in flight, mouth releasing wordless
cries of joy, piercing & fearless—she still
unaware of what it means to be brave.

Sarah E. Azizi (aka Sera Miles) is a queer Iranian-American writer, educator, & activist. Previous publications include $pread Magazine, Phoebe: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 34th Parallel, Blue Mesa Review, Fahmidan Journal, Clean Sheets, and red. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico w/ her daughter & among friends.