Blue-toned drawing of poppy flowers with three red flowers blooming

by Nataliia Burmaka



Daniela Paraguya Sow


A woman exclaims in Spanish over my daughter’s hair,

asks if she can touch it. No, you cannot touch her hair,


and no guilt flutters. When strangers see black 

and mixed girls near, they want to caress their hair.


To freshen the mane: first I spritz water all around.

Soft brown ringlets, Daddy’s pick will fro out the hair–


and it’s maybe the first thing anyone notices about her.

In line at a pizzeria, a white woman stares at her hair,


thinks no one is looking, can’t help herself, reaches out

with a hand to tousle our girl’s curls. Stop with the hair


touching, I want to shout. Boundaries: why broken 

so often? This girl knows she can say my hair


is a part of my body–please don’t touch. Some days she asks

me to twist the frontal strands, bobby-pin back her hair.


Other days, she loops on a colorful stretchy headband, 

or goes for an oversized, flashy bow. Most days, her hair


is natural, just the way she likes it, framing and shading

her beautiful brown face. She grins, I love my hair.


I celebrate with her, though I am still detangling 

people’s hands from this mixed girl’s hair.




Daniela Paraguya Sow (she/her) is a Filipina & Romanian American writer and serves as an Assistant Professor of English at Grossmont College in San Diego, California. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Mixed Asian Media, Sky Island Journal, West Trestle Review, The Lumiere Review, The Hyacinth Review, and elsewhere. Connect with her at and on Twitter: @daniela_sow.


Nataliia Burmaka was born 1 October, 1978. She graduated from Boris Danchenko’s National Studio of Fine Arts (Sumy, Ukraine) in 1999 and had been working as an artist designer from 1999 till 2005 . Later she made illustrations for books and worked together with her husband creating murals (private orders). After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, 2022 her family made a decision to emigrate from Sumy. By coincidence she and her family got temporary protection in Finland. Creating art became some sort of therapy for her and her husband Anton Amit, who is also an artist They had 3 exhibitions in the Jyvaskyla region, Finland, 2022.