Written By: Tariqah Shakir
Aisha Ali’s debut Spilt Milk is a short journey filled with hope. Opening a drawer of one’s life with the most pain and clutter to the world is not easy, yet she’s made that pain into something the next reader can learn and thrive from.
Each poem — though very short — tells Aisha’s story in different ways. In the chapter “Loss”, the reader learns of her father and his enveloping presence in everything she did after and before his passing.
“And I wonder if the earth that used to carry your weight as you tread its paths may be grieving you too. No light in sight.” (p. 45)
I thought about my father and loved ones; how strong would I be if their time came before I was ready? I’d never actually know, but Aisha’s method of dealing with pain and loss might give many an example to follow.
Her debut isn’t just about loss and grief however, it also emphasizes the importance of staying true to yourself when it can be easy to lose yourself.
In a society that prefers abuse — whether it be physical, emotional, or both — to be hush-hush, the victim is forced to sacrifice their dignity for the dignity of others. Many women, especially of color, conceal their pain until it nearly consumes them and they are far from the individual they were before marriage or a relationship.
Aisha, however, is one of many women fighting back and reclaiming themselves.
“Until then she’ll continue to paint with all the colors that appeal to her naked eye, she’ll embrace all the curved and crooked lines, she’ll combine the dark and bright colors fearlessly”, (Spilt Milk, p. 71)
This beautiful line is like a declaration of independence; independence from self-pity, from denial and neglect.
My personal favorite of the book is chapter 6 entitled “Rebirth” which I compare to glorifying the process of healing and self-discovery. Aisha’s journey included remembering what brings joy to her heart and again, the presence of her family who were always supportive and empowering.
“Hands envelop her, tightening together,” she continues on page 73. “She stands in the middle of them all, guarded. Safe. Grateful. Support.”
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