Tara McGowan-Ross / Leo Miskin

Issue Three, Poetry

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Water in Arabic
By Tara McGowan-Ross
With artwork by Leo Miskin

you are still too young to know why I sometimes
pluck you from the floor just to hold you (just
to feel your weight on me)
one day you will be old enough
to tell me not to kiss your face
(not today).

will you remember me when you can
choose to forget? how I
hid my face behind shaking hands, surprised you
with my continued existence
—held your hands to keep them from tearing through
the warm milk of your skin—blood pearling on brown
—sat weeping with you in my arms because
you needed me to eat, but
I needed you more. I love you
(so much). you are not mine.

now you raise your arms to me, say ‘up’—
so confident. tell me the word
for water in all your languages, sing
the closest thing to my name—throw yourself
to the ground with the weight of sorrow
when I leave before you are ready—
you are so small and human
and I am full of the knowledge

that I will bear no children—
temples thrumming with inherited ghosts,
breasts ready to swell with milk
—tumours; a hair trigger, a birth right—
two out of three of my grandmother’s girls, buried
before emphysema took her—
the smoke of years
punching holes as big as babies
in her chest—or my mother:
lungs clear and open, breasts
clogged with new cells—
forty-two. nothing you can do.

don’t have children
you aren’t ready to bury.


Tara McGowan-Ross is a 23-year-old philosophy and creative writing student living in Montréal. Tara is a queer, Mi’kmaq multidisciplinary artist and a professional caregiver. Tara’s debut collection of poetry, GIRTH, is forthcoming from Insomniac Press in autumn 2016.

Leo John is a visual artist born and raised in South London. He studied animation but found himself drawn back to the still image. His work takes inspiration from his travels, including city life and natural beauty. He likes to experiment, combining a range of different media in his pieces, creating an array of different looks and styles.You can see more on instagram. leojohnart@gmail.com.