i write my birthdate on the toilet paper. wipe my ass with it and scream. fear brushes the ceiling of my room with its dirty hands. flushing the toilet paper as i kiss for the first time. it bends its knees and presses itself into the walls. burns manganese on its shoulders and presses them into mine. bends its knees and presses its face into my hips. hushes as my lips diverge and my cat hides between its legs. it plasters sunlight above the window every 28 days and sniffs my dirty underwear biting its lips. pulls the drawers and sucks my papers like a vacuum. flips its head to me a million times a day. eyeballs the doll and touches my body. spits alcohol in my mouth and juices drip from underneath his clothes. it pierces uranium into my eyes and pulls hair off my skin. fear flushes my gut in the toilet as i laugh hysterically. sheds its exoskeleton in my room and i feel cockroaches under my bra. unplasters sunlight from the ceiling next year. fear bends down searching for the ticking clock under my bed and i write this note on its ass. i scream and it comes brushing my vagina with acid. keeps me infertile. it licks my vagina and hushes underneath. wakes me up in the morning and watches my skin cells burn with the first sip of the sun. i photograph my face every day. i watch my nostrils expand. acne all over my face. and blood between my legs. converting into a nightmare. fear steals my camera. photographs itself. screams in my face. sticks photos everywhere. we are. the same thing. i wipe my ass. and whisper to myself.
Tarik Shwaish (he/him/his) is a writer/ lyrical essayist from Basra, Iraq. He writes in english so that his voice becomes heard worldwide, but is also so much grounded in place. When he’s not writing, he enjoys listening to music or reading chemistry books. He wrote this grotesque prose poem during his time in the Adroit Journal summer mentorship program to illustrate how puberty is perceived by teenagers.
Images from Issue 5, by Jessie Giles