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Coconut Oil


Artwork by Isabelle Lu, staff artist

I am from the dainty blue bottle

Of coconut oil on the shelf.

The liquid reeked of enough preservatives to have a memory

Last a century.


My Nanu would rub it into my scalp,

While I watched the dust float by in the sunlight.

She’d point them out to me

Because the little particles illuminated

Were sent by the sun to explore the world.


I’m from cracked ceilings and windows

thrown open in the golden afternoon.

Fresh air mingled with the light undertones

Of spices and oils that we couldn’t beat back.


I’m from watching blossoms awaken with the dawn.

I’m from watching them fall with the dusk.

I’m from not knowing much

But knowing that was love.


I’m from mixing elachi into halwa and a stubborn laugh.

When my mother looks at me,

I’m not so different from her little sister.

My mother says she’s as strong as the earth.

My aunt wouldn’t believe me, but I’d be proud to be like her.


I’m from tucking seeds under a soil blanket

And worrying that if I swallowed one

They’d grow within my stomach

And refusing to eat watermelons because of it.

But when one seed snuck past my tongue,

My mother laughed,

“Wouldn’t it need sunlight?”


I’m from the sunburn on my nose.

I’m from the card my cousins drew last summer

Golden glitter pen doodles inside my desk.

I’m from cracked windows and inquisitive dust.

I’m from dipping my fingers in oil

And having nothing better to do.


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