“Touch” by Aydin M. Akgün

The African violet will bloom  
soon. Purple buds infest 
the question-mark-like stem, a line 
of taffeta, in a nest 

of green and mauve. The velvet leaves
that beckon me to touch 
them are barely within my reach.
A touch, it isn’t much 

to ask but auntie’s voice prevents   
it. “But Hala… but why?”  
I ask. She shakes her head and says   
“you know, don’t act so shy.”

She then continues reading.  Sounds
of prayer come in waves; 
she reads the holy book for me
to scare the devils, save 

my soul.  I stare at the grains of dirt
that sleep on velvet sheets.
How can these crystal shards of earth,
these specs as sharp as sleet 

be softer, softer than my flesh?  
I can’t disturb the bloom
or touch the hairy leaves to find  
the answers in this room. 

Aydin M. Akgün is a novelist and a poet. He was born and raised in Izmir, Turkey, graduated from the Lycée Saint Joseph in Izmir and moved to the United States in 1995. He received his B.A. in both International Relations and French from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2000, and his M.A. in Creative Writing in both poetry and fiction from Johns Hopkins University in 2009. He lives and works in Washington D.C.