SAHARA SIDI

Hot Girl Prayer

This poem came from a single (and dare I say, emo) question scribbled at the top of my notebook: “Is an adult’s joy merely a reprieve from suffering?” A good friend of mine suggested I sit with Zadie Smith’s “Joy” after my initial draft. I think this poem is a response to Smith’s meditations on the topic, honing in on the gendered experience of a good night out. Thank you for taking the time to read my poem!

Two tattoos later & foolish enough
to find romance even in the stench

of dead dog rotting in the yellow heat,
the palm leaf hugging our reprieve.

You say tonight was fun, even if
tomorrow makes us pay it forward.

And isn’t this joy? At some point
you must settle for derivatives & dupes;

mania in place of a toddler’s wonder;
cortisol rigged to feed the carnal. Go on,

find the shiny shrapnel while looking
for the little girl in worn family photos.

Don’t think too much about why
men love the jaded look of our eyes.

The closest we get to undiluted delight
may be an orgasm or a new high. Listen,

we’re almost home now. The feeling
returns to my gums, numbed by drugs

cut with cornstarch & thankfully
nothing capable of killing us. Sorry

it took me too long to realize god
had been cast in a role with no lines:

all lonely mouth and leering eyes.

Sahara Sidi is a Mauritanian-American writer and educator. Her writing has been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Adroit Journal, and Salt Hill Journal. Currently, she is a Rackham Merit Fellow at the Helen Zell Writers Program as an MFA candidate in poetry. She is a recipient of the Wesleyan University Olin Fellowship, Sophie and Ann Reed Prize, Herbert Lee Connelly Prize, Cole Prize, and the Winchester Fellowship. Most recently, she received a Hopwood Award in Nonfiction from the University of Michigan. Her work is forthcoming in The Offing.

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