The Last of Him

An abstract painting of three large orange circles on a field of very small blue-grey ones
A detail from Merikokeb Berhanu’s (Ethiopia/US) Untitled LII (2020), acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 in. / Courtesy of Addis Fine Art

When floods rose, the tree branches thinned,
carrying nothing but menses. Barren, deficient
of the most precious of metals, I walk the path
my mother plows through, tearing at tinsel on my body.
There is never a clearing; the path encircles the darkest woodland
where everything is either pregnant or rotting, asleep.
New-age medicine says this is where to come for healing,
but instead, the bark, cracking, showed my future—
how to run while looking back, everything certain as blood.


Nadra Mabrouk is the recipient of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the 2019 Amy Award from Poets & Writers magazine. She holds an MFA from the New York University Creative Writing Program, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. The author of the chapbook Measurement of Holy (Akashic, 2020), she works in publishing and teaches in New York City.