Skip to content
Contact USI

Boundless, or On Human Complexity

by Marissa Ahmadkhani

Name me cataclysm, crushed flowers underfoot,

              the purpling of dusk. I am lightning

in the summer, yellowed hills ready to ignite,      

              stiff legs, lakeside light, hovering mosquitos.

On some days I am gnarled roots, a flooded basement,   

              my scarred left knee. I am pomegranate-red, straining

eyes, my mother’s voice, the thickness of smoke. Call me

              summer heat. Joining hands, still water, smell of dirt,

the lemon grove back home. I am supple & pink, lisianthus

              slow-opening, but also its petals, soon browned

& curled inward. Name me multitude, desert, the meeting

              of lips. I am the smell of lilac in the late-afternoon,

the warmth of sleep & the waking to an empty hand.

Marissa Ahmadkhani holds an MA in English from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of California Irvine. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the minnesota review, Radar PoetryThe West Review, and, where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize in 2015 and 2017.