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At least the Atlantic 

is a country 

with no borders. At least there is salt 

and your fingers 

reaching to taste. At least 

fantasy. A confession that spans 

the distance — this dream 

of democracy and 

your clean sheets. In the dream, 

our tenderness is pink 

to touch, a lipstick smear 

on the cup of tea 

I brew for you. What else is love 

if not a morning ritual : 

the promise to rise and then rise 

again. I am falling 

in the dark when you text 

begging to stay 

in bed. Safe 

from the England sun smirking — 

the calculated heat of 


demanding a new day. 

But you don’t want the sun, 

instead a photograph 

of what an American girl 

would do for you 

if given the chance — 

as if language could bridge the ache 

between my hands and your 

hip bone as if this sentence 

could spit 

in your mouth. 

It hurts to try but I undress 

and imagine you anyway, 

forgetting the thick lines 

the empire drew 

long before we met. 

I am a bad citizen, 

a guilty lesbian 

to both my countries, 


my thighs. 

On the internet, 

there is no fee 

to undo you — syllable 

by syllable — I become 


of good character, 


your nice wife. 

Truth be told, 

it makes me sick 

to need in this way. 

Collecting evidence 

for the government on 

just how easily 

I was seduced. 

The decade 

between us is a reminder of how 

time dissolves 

like a sugar cube 

under the right fever. 

The payments 

to the lawyers pooling 

like sweat, still I struggle 

to forgive. Money 

that would be better spent 

on wedding cake and 

butterscotch schnapps. 

My sweetheart, 

there is little 

I can offer 

outside of my body, 

my passport, useless 

for our queer 


my last name, 

a red target. 

History ripens 

into memory when 

I start to crave 

your fingerprint 

on my throat.

Listen to A. read "Visa Application" below:

00:00 / 02:11
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A. SHAIKH (he/she/they) is a queer immigrant poet raised in the tangerine summers of Texas. They are the 2021 winner of THE BOILER PRIZE, an inaugural fellow of the Strange Tools Writer's Workshop, and an Aquarius who loves the color blue. You can find their poems in Underblong,, and elsewhere.  This fall, they will continue writing as an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers' Program. Their internet thoughts reside @apricotpoet.

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