What is it about brown girls?

brown girls have hair of various persuasions – straight, greasy, frizzy curly, silky
pubic    black

eyebrows bushy & unibrows a norm
faces playing a ‘fifty shades of brown’ game, brown
hued skin deeming us

pudgy belly’s & muffin tops from immensities of masala biryani, keema & korma
black locks turn  wavy  as they skid past melanin laced shoulders.

hair unkempt, blown in a frenzy by
Storm Freya. white girls’
hair stays straight
‘is it glued to their head?’ the brown girls

mama sends phone flashing,
‘hello   pyari   beti ?’
unchecked phone for 3 hours is a south asian no-     no Neha,


brown girlfriends catch your vibe as
auntie’s note pimples in your
uncles’ comment
on thigh chub, gazes lingering just below the neckline, as you hold back
rising acidity.

seeking refuge with house help
from inner-pakistani villages – they catch your vibe too

brown             girls listen to mama’s stories, fetch    daddy’s medication
finance little brother’s education,

brown girls who are multitudes – coloring outside lines, patriarchy set for

girls with big dreams and wild fantasies knotted to their hearts
girls who sacrifice.
girls who iam

Neha Maqsood is a Pakistani writer whose coverage on South Asian culture, race-relations, and global feminism has been published in Teen Vogue, Business Insider, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera, The Doe, DAWN, and other places.

Her poetry, too, has been featured in numerous print and online literary journals and anthologies including the Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Ambit Magazine, Aleph Review, PROTOYPE, and Diode Poetry. Her debut poetry chapbook was awarded the Hellebore Poetry Scholarship Award and will be published by Hellebore Press in the Fall of 2021.

She is a graduate of Imperial College London (Hons).