19 Variations of Sierra

Sierra twirling her fingers in my curls. Sierra pulling off the claws of translucent, lakeside crabs. Sierra with a knife wound for a mouth. Sierra in a hijab, bending her back for prayer. Sierra biting her fingernails to stubs. Sierra stealing chewing tobacco from her father’s coat pocket. Sierra at the airport in Casa, an island of hard English and pink lips. Sierra in the backyard, cutting the thorns off roses. Sierra in the bathroom, marinating her hair in egg yolk and honey. Sierra and I sneaking into the house, the screen door creaking. Sierra blowing smoke in my eyes. Sierra cursing in Arabic the way our parents taught us. Khraa. Zibill. Tfouu. Sierra spitting the words out like the wet shells of black buttery seeds. Sierra introducing herself as born in Columbia, Argentina, Brazil. Sierra with brilliant bits of blue glass at the peak of her hair. Sierra as five closed doors, as a circus trick, the flash of a hand. Sierra wrenching her back molar out in the bathroom. Sierra burying the tooth in her mother’s favorite houseplant. Sierra grinning, the empty space hidden, watering the flowers every day for a month.

By Yasmin Belkhyr