2023 Roots & Roads Winner: “ANCESTRY TOLD THROUGH PROPHECY” by Meriem Evangeline

“Daughter after daughter was / offered for the harvest.”

We’re thrilled to celebrate Meriem Evangeline, our 2023 Roots & Roads winner! Her poem, “ANCESTRY TOLD THROUGH PROPHECY,” has been awarded the first place prize of $3,000. Stay tuned as we publish the runners-up throughout January.



through the farmland where the cattle

umber the wheat, I felt the prophecy pour

from my mouth. My tenderness as predatory

as a butcher through the eyes of a lamb that

begets the new land. Let me tell you the story I

know, let me weave together a language spat

from the clefts of our prophets to tell you that

that day, the unfurled wool of the lamb became

the aparche and the rupture began. the

crops and pomegranates fell from the lamb-

stomach. daughter after daughter was

offered for the harvest. together one body—

sewed daughter-flesh more fresh than the

unsutured underbelly of an ewe whose

organs lay out fully uneaten. that day the

butchers also left no daughter-organ uneaten

they consumed each offal because to refuse the

onslaught would prove they lacked mercy for what

suffers. when they ate they became conquerors and

bred the berber daughters to plough the new seed.

a seed well fathered, honourable and always pure.

I am the new seed, I am that daughter.


متربية / metrobya / n. well fathered / honourable / always pure / cut fresh from the harvest of June /

when she bleeds she / never touches the holy / when she washes / she becomes the honeysuckle of

summer / when they ask her to flesh herself open / & make her body a home for the butchers / she

obeys / they enter her & her body becomes the meat that churns to please them / the rosy poultry of

her womb cuts open to / reveal the knotted fat of her progeny / she watches herself be swallowed by the

glottal she respects [ she fears / she— ] / she tends to the voyeur [ she becomes her own voyeur ] / she

undos honour / she destroys her whole folkhome


my ark my mosque my mecca my
cross    my tendency to confuse you for the prophets I pray to
now removed from fluency    my
tendency to turn my tongue upon my father-language
the root word for عرب comes from     dweller of the
desert       my grandmother says that we were all once
dwellers of the desert
boys made of clay
danced for each other by cameled
 wells     they burnt myrrh
& feasted on the ramadan harvest
women as dark as date seeds were flayed
out onto
the sand      left to be marked by the dust of palm
trees          hennaed hands pushed
the sweat of gold bangles up              fatty
arms to            weave an
entrance to an
they reached through & stretched the
muscle to un-tell the story    &         breach towards
place where
     honour          began,
where we are
you are her
son     &
I am

Miriem Evangeline

Meriem Evangeline is a Greek-Tunisian writer and is currently completing her Honours in Creative Writing. She is a writer and editor for Dune Magazine. Her work has been published and / or is forthcoming in Dune, The Rising Phoenix Review, Eunoia Review and Honey Literary.

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