Peristalsis

by Roshan Zoe Moazed

My body has a memory, like a snake moving through my limbs in a dance, gliding from my toes up to my neck, twisting around my lungs in the pattern of string lights, wrapped around the columns of our front door in the suburbs, bright pink and emerald green, tangerine globes, digesting, peristalsis of millions, of moments inside my body. I remember when we used to sit at the kitchen table and drink milk, my sister and I, we threw our heels backwards against the wood over and over in a rhythm, using our sleeves to wipe our mouths dry, a piece of life, less. I remember when we laughed at the same time, together, in synchrony, there was a light that seeped from your mouth the color of the sunrise, golden, like a broom beating cobwebs clean from my body, there it is again, serpentine, smiling with you in the safety of your light that is farther now, if I close my eyes I feel it on my skin, it raises hairs on my arm, like blades of grass mowed by the city, it felt like our lawn but it wasn’t, coming home to the unexpected scent of wet grass in the summer. Next to the grass was the lilac bush, each flower the color of the evening, lavender and sweet, the branches bouncing gently in the breeze, we stopped to smell them though we knew, the exact smell of beauty, what was left when the most beautiful jewel had been planted, in a garden, violet and indigo, shades of the planet rotating away from a star, misted with perfume, it was time. My body has a memory, and more, it is a snake, moving them through my esophagus and breaking them into mush, they’re as milky as what filled our cups, they’re as painful, your laugh so golden and the moments I curled on my bed and sobbed, sadness hurt me like two hands wrapped around my throat and squeezing, I remember when we laughed at the same time, sitting cross-legged on the grass, something so warm, like a fever that pulls you into a dream, it’s where I was in your light, farther now. I think about how I stared at my mother from the top of the staircase, her hair was puffy and short, it sat above her shoulders, she wore a lace tank top that matched her purse, the ladybug one that I would have someday, she promised. I think about how I stared, about the snake, the string lights turning our neighborhood into fragments of a rainbow. Bits of pink and emerald, golden orange, twinkling bulbs, scales on my body, the snake, digesting the world in peristalsis, squeezing memories into pieces with my throat, with the hands that grip it when I lie on my pillow in the nighttime. When it’s dark outside, after your light has fallen below the horizon, the feeling of laughing in synchrony, as timed as my sister and I knocking our heels against the kitchen bench, the feeling of being saved, the feeling of tangerine light globes, spreading across my skin, pricking it into goosebumps, I can remember. What is inside my body, and out, I have a memory, millions, broken into pieces, shards of a broken mirror, scattering light, yours and my own, we were the sunset, we were golden, while I sobbed, while my sister and I drank milk at the table, while the lawn was mowed by the city, while the lilac bush blossomed in the spring. I remember cobwebs being dusted from my corners, I remember the staircase, as we sat in the grass and smiled inside your light.

About the Author

Roshan Zoe Moazed graduated from Brown University in 2017 with a degree in Creative Writing, and now lives in Boston, MA while pursuing a second Bachelor's degree in Mathematics at UMass Boston. While she isn't in class learning about the triple integrals and subgroups, you can find her working at a coffee shop she considers her second home, roasting Japanese sweet potatoes, and watching the sunset.