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Ashna Ali


Sometimes this develops later in life. I can’t say I’m surprised, considering.

The diet should help. You work too much. Have you considered quitting your job?

Oh right

health insurance.


I hate to tell you this: there’s no cure, exactly.

I hate to tell you this: there’s very little research. It’s written off as a kind of


Did they send you to a gynecologist before they sent you to me?


First your stomach, then your brain. Or feelings. Stress. Which of course it is.

But also.


Let’s not confuse common

    with normal.


Listen. This isn’t going to be pretty. It’s not likely to go away. I would make peace with

not living

like other people. I know it’s hard but consider quitting your job.

I’ll prescribe you something.




when love


& purpose

suddenly shed themselves


    disappearing into a small point

on the tip of your eye


take this, & you will be able

to go in to work.


days when some small god

tugs on an optic nerve out of boredom

your belly coils thick

    lose vision



  pain blossoms


tip of your skull

over your face    

top of your navel





when some fate betrayed

roils down with the rain

    braids the past back

into your organs with crochet needles

reminds you

you are only

    the white wince


you are only              white wince


you will only ever be

    this white wince


on those days

take this.


Go to work.


Will she speak again?

When she’s ready. You have to understand

that kid’s got big hurts.


From what?


Why don’t you tell me?


What are you suggesting?

She must be abnormal? Fix her.




you’re not sick. you’re sensitive.

it’s good to be sensitive. it means you’re feeling

your way


the world.


you have feeling

you can trust

in your intestine

feeling you can trust

in your temples

      behind your eye

   in your belly.


everything does hurt.

everything is lonely.

your body is telling you things

for a reason.

your body is not built

to lie.


Ashna Ali is a Brooklyn-based poet, researcher, and educator. Their poetry has appeared in Bone Bouquet, HeART Online, femmescapes, and The Felt, and they have academic work published or forthcoming in Gender Sexuality Italia, Global South, Journal of Narrative Theory, and MAI Feminism and Visual Culture. They are a doctoral candidate of Comparative Literature at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and they teach Literature at Queens College and Food and Film at The New School.


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