At night she sleeps with her lips parted ever so slightly,
so I will watch the air flutter at the edge of her mouth
tipping itself in and then emptying out, bathing me
in her wonder, until the whole room must be full of her,

all the furniture carrying her peppermint breath on their shoulders.

She has tucked herself into all of my favorite spaces:
in the gap between letters in her book on the bedside table
in the threads of wool in my favorite Christmas sweater
in the cookie jar and by the crackling logs of the fireplace

where she rests behind Cat’s ears and in Dog’s belly fur.

Morning will take away her peace, but I will wait
for the sun to fall into the sky’s edge again,
for I know that when nature reacquaints itself with darkness again,
her breath will be in the lungs of the buzzing bees,
the mayflies and the mosquitoes and all their ghosts

the flocks and tired wings, the hives in tree limbs

and when her old, weary father can’t worship her anymore
having succumbed to sleep as he does, for some time,
as we all must, the humming insects will take my place
and breathe her back into the grass and the flowers,
so that she can grow forever in the shade of the oak

over her Papa’s grave.

Fatima Khan is a sophomore majoring in English and Biology. She says, “You’ve likely
seen me behind the marketing front desk, or sitting on a campus sofa, taking a nap. If it’s
the former, say hi! If I’m asleep, wake me, I’m probably late.” She won Best Short Story
in this issue.