Dry Heat

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta

After pounding down salmon, skin,
bones and all, frozen
whey powder creams that stuck
like chalk to my teeth and icy
vitamin water, I’d slip
betwixt the old Asian women buzzing naked
between stalls. Slump into the sauna
and let the heat suck me hell dry. Smooth
those goosey forearms, stop
my core shaking with the door’s snap.
I carried
that heat with me. Through the spin classes,
the yoga, the long rides back home. Into the night,
into your arms, warm up the bed
like a firecracker from the inside
out. Even now
that my ribs don’t jump
out like a puppet show
and my hair’s growing back,
I carry that heat within me. It exudes
like an aura, angry red and lovey
pink. Does it matter
that I stole it? That it’s imitation,
if it’s cheap and stifling—No,
because as am I. Like the heat,
so am I.

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, PhD is a multi-award winning Aniyunwiya interdisciplinary poet and artist. As a native of the occupied land of what is often referred to today as “Oregon” and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, space, place, and de-colonization are the driving forces behind her work. She recently completed her post-doctoral fellowship as the 2022 Forecast Change Lab fellow and is now undertaking her Fulbright Senior Scholar post in Bengaluru, India where she is curating a poetry anthology in the colonizer’s tongue.

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