On Being 23

I am plain and unremarkable,

like cosmos flowers -

you might find a little beauty if you stop and look hard enough.

No one ever does, least of all me.

I have led a plain and unremarkable life,

waiting for figs to fall to my feet,

and for a star to fall into my lap.

My skin is tired.

I can feel the cold creep into my joints,

and then my bones,

and then my veins

until it fills every crevice inside of me,

even the ones I thought I had hidden so well.

Today I will wear my white button down.

Step over the creaks I have memorised,

shrink myself until I take up no space at all.

A spectre at the back of the room.

I will not pray - I never do.

Today smells like brimstone - it always does.

I wish I could untangle my nerves

and unravel my lungs,

and lay them down to rest in the sunshine.

I wish I could lay down and rest in the sunshine.

I study the fault lines on my palms

and think about

how diseases are named after men

and how women are named after flowers and colours and seasons and months of the year.

As I sit and think,

I feel the burnt parts of me drifting away as ashes

and the wet parts of me start to rust.

The rest of me is sawdust.

I count the beams of light which stream through my scarred eyelids.

I lose track.

Every cell inside of me is exhausted.

I pick a blossom from the root and salt the earth,

stare at the violet bruises on my legs,

and breathe in the stench of decay I have learned to love.

I realize that I am fickle, a bank without a river, a sky without stars, a hollow, empty thing.

I scratch open old wounds and new ones,

allow the wind to leave whispers in my hair,

and soak in the futility of it all.

I crawl into the labyrinth and promise to get lost.


About the author: Humairaa Mayet is incredibly passionate about issues of social justice and strives to make a difference in the world through as many avenues as possible. She spends her days listening to music, cooking and baking, attending protests, and raising her plants.


  • drawing by pius

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