If Only I Were An Ant

my favorite pair of jeans reach for my veins

pre-teen years

I think of how nice it must be to be an ant

I stitch my waist and my gut spills all over

an abstract painting I’ve become

the more I look in the mirror the less I understand 

I look for so long my eyes dry open

nit-picking at things to scribble over

like body parts were misspelled words

my eyes drown into the back of my skull every time I smile

a family member calls to ask why I’m frowning in all the Eid pictures 

mornings are for migraines and embarrassment 

pictures from the night before,

I thought my body knew better than to overstay its welcome

my palms sweat as I awkwardly tower over you 

what I’d do to be an ant today

would I still be bigger than my little ant friends?

the first time I realized I take up a little too much space

I am nine and a strange man asks me to turn into a shadow 

what a gross thing to tell a little girl

like you’re declaring me public property 

giving me license for more self-hate

If I was shorter, if I was smaller

If I were an ant

everyone says their body is holy, a temple 

well, my temple feels clumsy and disproportionate and tired

a teenager in an 85-year-old’s body 

my phone camera swallows me whole

and I find comfort disguised in a McDonald’s meal

and big grey sweaters in the middle of summer

ants crawl onto my shoulder, I’ve been one of them all along.


Mawadah is a 17-year-old artist and writer based in Riyadh. Born in Cairo, Egypt but growing up between America, Canada and Saudi Arabia has made her explore themes of diaspora, identity, growing up, and culture. She aims to de-stigmatize and create conversations on uncomfortable and important topics. Mawadah loves dogs, museums, travelling and her ukulele. 

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