Farah Ghafoor

The bare oak in the backyard caught its own broken branch.

God loves your struggle. Nonviolence. Apply lemon

to the cut, then attach it back to the branch. Keep it clean

until your mother notices and starches the sky a lilac sheet

outside. Skin purples because God doesn’t like this kind

of struggle. You’re drawing the arrow too far back,

say the twigs. Their trees agree, hanging over each other

like a pair of gangly girls. I don’t love you unless I have to,

standing on my porch because you can’t talk to your parents

alone. Stripped by indecision and the last patches of snow

melting in a halo around your feet, I don’t love you except for sometimes,

when you feel homeless under anything that resembles a roof.

We both sleep lightly in the wrong houses, caught in the strong winds

that pulled out a flowering night, the moon an ivory petal.

Farah Ghafoor is a fifteen-year-old poet and a founding editor at Sugar Rascals, an online teen literary magazine. Her work is published or forthcoming in Ninth Letter, alien mouth, Words Dance, and Red Paint Hill among other places, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Farah is the recipient of the 2016 Alexandria Quarterly Emerging Artists and Writers Award. She believes that she deserves a cat. Find her online at