Desire Lines

by Sara Saab

My ma's ma swears up 
and down roads once criss-
crossed Earth,

her finger points at my collection of toys, 
'like stitching in your wee football,'

She is phlegmy and I have nothing to say,
too annoyed

that she traces my toys with her gross, slow, bendy finger
I am allowed 
to touch them only at 
World Day
and my conception day and sometimes
if I have been good enough 
sometimes to make 
and father agree.


Okay sure they 
criss-crossed Earth but
now any dummy knows there is only one 
 only rich people can feel 
what it was like 
to drive 
on it; 

They kinda fake it. The rich people slide
 into a 
tuk-tuk on 
their really muscled bottoms — 
from the vibroglutes 
they sleep in 
(, Joshwa's joke. My face so red I think
 father sees the dirt-talk on my cheeks
 like magic writing,)—

and when the rich people are cozied all up on the tuk-
tuk bench,
 there are drawings on either side
 to look like what
a real
Car was. And the tuk-tuk girls pedal and off 

they go slowly down the middle of it,

 the rich people get drove down the only Road still on Earth.


I see it happen on a holiday. It is a sweaty hot World Day so we go to visit
 the Road. It is a long
grey tongue out of the sand with yellow 
paint lines and some 
white lines

There are people milling about it and mumbling.
There are big signs with symbols on a big metal pipe.
One is bent 
over like a broken wing, which doesn't really matter
can't get the writing 
anyway — 

Father looks sad I think because he 
told me they
 took all the other tars and gravels and 
melted them in vats to make 
fuel so
now there is only this last Road,

They burned all the roads criss-crossing Earth.


I like it a lot but I think it's not much use
for games
until I look close at it while sitting on my football, then,
I like it more

Because it looks like dragon skin and feels hot, fiery, like dragon skin

I really like the road when I decide that
 it is the last 
dragon because
why should a person use a road when it is obvious where to go?

You go where the grass is already trodden down, 
where there are no rivers blocking you or
or to your friend's house for a treat or

Or sometimes you can follow other people,

But especially you go where there are no gendarmes.

Everyone knows.


So for fun this World Day I 
make up stories with the dragon road
like a hero.
A sleeping 

Like the Road is one of the toys and
I don't need a tuk-tuk ride 
anyway —

sometimes my ma nods yes, 
that I can touch 
the toys today
but I hover in their air and breathe them,
rapt and
splotchy with guilt. I am scared to wipe 
them out like gone roads. 
My father and 
ma say it is fine 
but it feels funny
I can't.

Sara Saab came wailing into the world at a Beirut hospital in the winter of 1984. The prime witnesses each recall a single stand-out feature of the event: her mother, the musk of hard liquor on the skin of the attending obstetrician, and her father, the worrying Klingon dent scoring the tiny nose of the ruddy and slick infant. This crease soon disappeared, but little Sara didn't. Nowadays she dabbles in software in London and — embarrassingly — aches too much in the heart when confronted by rock anthems and perfect sentences. Sara has had writing appear in Stone Telling, Apex, Fantasy Magazine, and Electric Velocipede.

Figs are her favourite fruits.

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