Yasmin Belkhyr

& the gun echoed for centuries


We had mothers once. We had cheer practice, lemonade stands, first kisses in bowling alleys.

Fox had a dog, snarling, white spit on yellow teeth. Then, the world was buried under oceans

of rain. Entire cities soaked and splayed, beaten down slowly, the worst death, one you

cannot feel until it is too late. A subtle, ugly thing. Rising & rising, choking you at the

throat. Bloodless but not without violence. Even now, Olive refuses to name the dead thing.

Even now, I refuse to spit the bile in my mouth. Compromise is never easy. For example,

after we put the Boy in the ground, Cherry Girl showered for ages, sugar scrub until her

thighs bled pepper bright. For example, Huck only speaks of Tom when Angie is asleep. For

example, we had mothers once. That first night of rain, we all wept with joy. We scraped

the sky with our bare hands.

Interlude with Drug of Choice


Angie thinks river. Thinks swollen rock. Thinks Tom, mouth sore. Thinks light, spilled and

leaking. Angie thinks pills, spark, click. Huck and his foxhole. Huck and all his shred. Angie

doesn’t think dead boy. Live boy. Angie thinks mountain, clouds of heavy paint. Fist of slow.

Angie thinks fish, frozen. Eyes sliced and craving. Winter of burnt tongue. Winter of weave.

Angie thinks Huck with a lighter, outside the 7-11. Angie, green shorts, bathtub. Pluck the

goose. Duck for dinner. Huck and the bottle at his mouth. Huck and his never-seeing eyes.

Bathtub. Goose. Click. Much later, Olive asks: did you know what you were capable of?

& the light devours us all


Olive is cradling her belly, snoring softly. Cherry asked for the gun & I know what this will

be. I can taste a flood in my mouth already. Huck is loud the way boys born of drink & river

always are. In a dream, Cherry shoots him dead. In a dream, I peel my mouth & peel my

shirt & weep. A girl is just another word for gun anyway. Angie will sink into hazy clouds of

lavender, & we will bury our hands & tongues for centuries. The Boy is nowhere &

everywhere, only vivid in my mind, his hand lingering on Olive’s knee. When it’s all over,

this is what we become, muddy bank and green grass and daisy-toothed. Olive is cradling her

belly & there are no questions I have left to ask. Olive is cradling her belly & in a dream, I

drag the Boy to the water & he doesn’t drown, just grins.


YASMIN BELKHYR is a writer and editor from Morocco. Her work has or will appear in Muzzle, PANK, Salt Hill, Rookie, and other publications. She is the founder and EIC of Winter Tangerine, a magazine dedicated to evocative writing and art. She currently lives and studies in New York.