“Cleopatra” is a poem written by 14-year-old poet and women’s advocate Anya Thakur. She works to empower and uplift communities as founder of GirlUp Dallas, a UN Women organization, and a MetoWe partner with ArtRising, which provides arts enrichment to underprivileged communities and creates diverse programming for South and East Asian women. Hosting education, self-defense, and language and literature classes to empower rural women in Delhi, Mumbai, and Munipur, and humanitarian efforts with Myna Mahila, which empowers women in rural India through health education, her women’s advocacy promotes UN Women’s mission to ensure a fair and equitable future, and she has traveled throughout the United States and India to speak for girl’s education and empowerment.
scoop a handful of silt from the mouth of the nile river, reddish clay packed underneath your fingernails and skin tanned to leather.
milled finer than fairy dust, softer than powdered sugar.
then toss it to the winds. what you want is thick, viscous magma and ash darker than the night. everything it has consumed — brittle bone and soft calfskin — is trivial.
you’re holding power. but it’s finite.
granules of gold and nuggets of lapis lazuli.
strips of lavender silk positively drenched in kerosene, dancing in the dry desert heat, ready to ignite.
bronze combs taming wild, lustrous curls, sparks of copper and rust, sunlight sparking to life
pearls dissolved to creamy hues, bleeding in shades of light, swirling into silvery sheen. and the nothing. poured down the throat of a queen and swallowed carelessly. maybe it was wine. muddy water. or did it happen at all?
kiss a king. enamor an emperor. rule a nation. and still fall.
but do whatever it takes
wear a viper draped as carelessly as a choker
poison is your shared weapon of choice
smile sharply, kill sweetly
history will remember
she’ll remember whispered words
the stinging bite of an asp
and its raspy hiss.
and she’ll endure.