By: Gabriella Tucciarone Smith College, Northampton MA, USA
A red, bumpy, peeling-paint kind of factory. The windows at night peek on the empty streets. The light from the furnace in the factory flows into the road Reaching the end by the bridge, where the light eagerly tries to climb. On cold nights, the light shivers in the wind and hops within itself for a little warmth.
One particularly cold night, the old and stern furnace was mad with craving, and it began to eat itself. As I was en route for home, I saw this old and nervous building begin to taste itself. The flames licked the inside walls. The windows clouded with smoke; they no longer peeked for empty night-time walkers. Slowly, the flames ate the ivy that clung like veins. The leaves on the ivy exploded like capillaries, Into small bombs of ember that left small stains of ash on the sidewalk. The furnace belched a giant puff of smoke as the roof was catapulted into the sky.
I noticed that the entire building was winking as it collapsed onto itself. The wooden frames were shaking as its knee started to give. The building had started bowing, and dipped down to bid me farewell. As I put my hat on and walked away, I looked back at the trembling turmoil of a once great building and dear friend.
By: Sarah Grissom Mt. St. Michael’s College, Ashgrove, Queensland, Australia
For the 23 mediocre years in her life she had flown under the radar. Wandering eyes skimmed over the fifth and youngest child; her average grades were nothing to cheer for and her friends were merely companions with whom she could chat. School had passed and no one’s gaze ever lingered long.
The leaves were falling crisp and dry upon the dusty summer front lawns, where a lack of water meant lengthy days, leering and lamentable. Making her way slowly along the towns centre in her bland south-of-the city suburb, filled with unruly characters, she fit right in. Her clothes just like the rest, almost threadbare from talented and tainted generations alike, passed down through the years which barely scratched the surface of satisfactory.
For the 76 mediocre years in her life she had flown under the radar. Amounting to nothing more than predicted, amounting to nothing like what she had hoped. Resting weightlessly on her bed she passed, just as unnoticeably as she was born.
By: Elizabeth Wayua Ndinda English Instructor at Akilah Institute, Kigali, Rwanda
This table… Where is the table? In a bar with men at 10 pm, Sipping beers or wines or spirits. Which she can’t.
My spirit sinks. Tall, round, no arm rest or padding: Her seat at the table. Her rear doesn’t fit on the chair. Her face oval like an egg. Her skin spotless. Shifty eyes, tight lipped. Her lean figure is stooped so far, She might be tying her laces.
My soul nosedives,
Scans around; their faces… Vultures ready to feast Ever hungry beast, Each one of them. She, the misplaced prey. They are about to play Introductions game: Name, Position, achievements. Her, Lame Mrs So, Marital status, number of kids.
By: Sophie Kamariza Akilah Institute, Kigali, Rwanda
My mother is knowledge Not only fetched from college When around, no barrier can stop me Even carrier won’t promote me I don’t care for levels or positions And I won’t be scared with oppositions.
For me, no need for sense of protocol My presence brings all control I influence the whole world Because difference is all I need.
Though walking silently in the yards Following my fans everywhere My crown is not hard to wear For all those pursuing me for years My footprints last forever Whoever accepts me can’t lose favor.
I am called Power Not roaring, but blowing even to the poor All traces of towns are mine When I hide I am not gone When back I am multiplied by nine
In front of difficulties I find possibility Never caught in doubts during confusion All because belief is my infusion Catch me, own me and get dominion Save me, protect me as a good companion Make me a priority: authority will come toward you
By: Kerry LeCure Smith College, Northampton MA, USA
i. the lust
consider: a girl with a smile like starshine, who straightens her hair with shinbones, has teeth like ivory. she drags her fingers across her clavicles leaving pale red streaks, her voice is whisper-soft, wonderful, even—or is it full of wonder? i don’t know, anymore—but it leaves tiny earthquakes in its wake. she is quicksilver in the marrow of my bones, but it’s difficult to breathe when she’s murmuring words into my thighs. i think that she paints her lips with blood, that her organs are made of pure surgical-grade steel, but it becomes so hard to tell when she’s got one hand in my hair and the other under his shirt. she ate my heart on a wednesday. i never got it back.
ii. the sloth
he traced words along your spine when he thought i wasn’t looking, languidly, wanted to eat you whole when your clothes were paint-splattered. i never told him that i’d noticed, that i didn’t care, because the way he reached for you was nauseating. instead i breathed lazy smirks and half-hearted sighs, hummed along with the bark in your voice, leaned into the callouses on his fingertips. i loved him, too, but it was the way that his heartstrings tangled around themselves for you that kept me quiet.
iii. the greed
we let ourselves be consumed, or maybe—we consumed you, endosymbiosis. you love the blood and grit of the bandages between your fingers, because it reminds you of a time when you were so powerless, he loves the way sweat slides down his chin, i love the sound of change hitting cement, and we’re the mob, now, knocking down doors. or rather—you’re the mob and you’re knocking down your own doors, forget about who you were, who you are, who you will become. you try so hard that i forget, too, even when his hands are on your hips, even when i’m reminding you to breathe, breathe, breathe.
iv. the gluttony
you wrapped your fingers around his shoulder blades. i’ve heard they were knobby and cold and i would know them in death. you were all teeth and shit-eating grins, bite anyone who got too close (kiss anyone who got too close). his tongue was wicked, sharp, paper cuts against bruised knuckles, globs of blood rolling down fits and chins and you savored every moment of that, soaked it up, because it reminded you of yourself, like how you licked your hands clean when they got too dirty when you ate his heart for breakfast. ate my heart for breakfast, but that’s the part they forget. that’s the part everyone forgets. it’s easy to forget because you’re always wanting more: breathe in, breathe out, remember that to take a step forward, you’re supposed to take five back. or something like that. it’s been so long.
v. the envy
i missed you like a limb, he missed you like he’d miss his own heart. it’s quiet these days with only the rain to keep us company, sometimes when the moon is halfway across the sky i catch him with your paintbrushes, his eyes running mad. sometimes i wish i was as selfish as you, a pack-up-runaway girl made of stardust, sometimes i wish he’d cling to my hand the way he clung to yours.
vi. the wrath
he wakes up sometimes and won’t talk for hours, only paces and tries to work through the white-knuckled frustration, and when i say he needs to get over it, he’ll tell me that we’re the same, he and i. we’re the same, we share the tension in our fists, our jaws, our shoulders. we’re bruising touches, clashing teeth, blinding smiles, keep it all bottled up until it’s too late. i haven’t seen him like this since he first saw his mother’s reaction to his girlfriends, plural, because we’re all a little selfish, we all wanted until we couldn’t take anymore, except now you’re gone and he pulsates red-hot rage and i’m only made of quiet fury. i don’t miss you anymore, but i’ve heard he does. you forgot to call.
vii. the pride
i do not forgive you for filling up all the spaces of my heart, but sometimes i forget that you didn’t asked me to—forgive you, that is. and when i kiss you, you taste of the stars and the sun and the moon, but you murmur into my skin that i am bruised knees and crinkled paper shoved into pockets. you remind me that it takes two to tango. that my toes are just as bloody as yours. my bones creak in the evenings, sharp pops and blurry cracks. they feel so old these days, but i let you pretend they sing songs for you.
By: Jas Ganev Castilleja School, Palo Alto CA, USA
Sunday. The slamming of car doors, The trudging of feet through mud, The screeching of rainboots against a “Welcome” mat.
Sunday. Mother-daughter bonding time. The shaking of realtors’ hands followed by Fake smiles, false stories, and made-up names.
Sunday. Mother-daughter bonding time. Exploring mansions. The whispers behind half-open doors, The click of the camera, The delighted laugh echoing through the halls.
Sunday. Mother-daughter bonding time. Exploring mansions. Creating her temporary fantasy. A beacon of light shining through billowing white curtains Onto the glistening marble floors,The flights of spiraling staircases, The hundreds of hand-carved doors. Sunday. Mother-daughter bonding time. Exploring mansions.
The widened eyes that become slits, shifting from awe to anger and greed, Knowing that this house will be someone else’s, Yet we will still drive by again and again.
Sunday. Mother-daughter bonding time. Are we bonding, or am I bound to you?
Sunday. I want to go home, Mommy. I want to go home.
By: Srinidhi Panchapakesan Agnes Scott College, Decatur GA, USA
I don’t get sunburnt, no matter how long I’m outside. Maybe some people just can’t burn, but I think my ancestors must have befriended the sun thousands of years ago and she gave us the gift of brown skin so that she could shine as bright as she wanted and we would only get darker, while the people who invaded our land would burn.
Yawning—Stretching—standing proud for the day. Warm sunlight trickles through the window as condensation fogs the mirror.
Stepping out, a cloud of steam follows like a wedding dress. They dry their feet on the rough mat, lean forward, run the towel to catch the drips that journey down their spine.
Walking to the mirror, they use the towel to free their face from the glass cage. Squared jaw, thick brows, the lips of ancient gods.
Following the mirror down with their eyes, the body is blurred. It is there, standing—real in every regard. But no details shine through.
Does today bring a chest of supple mounds, the nourishment of mankind? Or would the day be one of endless fields, sharp angles, and broad lines?
The fog melted down their neck. Would their voice reach the submarine signals deep beneath the ocean blue? Or would it fly high with the delicate birds in the clear blue sky?
Bringing their hand up to run through wet hair— would it flow long, a twirl of braids and intricate patterns? Or would it be twisted tight into a strong knot under their hat?
Maybe today they would exist in the blur. The blur that permeated the image they faced. Maybe their hair would flow long and their nails would shine bright– their chest flat as a frozen lake, their voice a force that could make mountains tremble.
Maybe today they would be neither. Maybe today they would be both. And maybe that would be OK.
First appeared in an edition of MR. MA’AM Literary Journal at Emory University.
ISIL (formerly known as ISIS—defamation of a GODDESS)
ISIL knows this
.if the soldier will fight.
— but when it is clear he is living to die killing as he kisses suicide he is given a Yazidi “bride”
at what price
and Isis wept
and Isis worked
and Isis wept
and Isis worked
and Isis wept
the Yazidi fight
Isis brought the dead back to life
“oh Allah she is your throne”
Artist Statement for Isis and Osiris
Born of earth and sky, the Egyptian goddess Isis shows us that strength does not preclude feeling: an essential reminder as women transition into selfhood. Isis is here invoked to reclaim a name that has been sullied, while also serving as a reminder that mourning is a profound part of the process of empowerment, as it is in numbness that we are truly lost. It was up to her to restore the world when everything was ripped to pieces, and this was not a process without profound pain, a pain she was not afraid to show. As for the Yazidi and Kurdish women fighting against ISIL, they are not just tasked with restoring destroyed worlds within and without; many are directly confronting violence as soldiers themselves. The poem “Isis and Osiris” expresses that when tradition is upheld over what is natural and loving, our humanity is more easily degraded and we become numb. When this happens, we must fight like the Yazidi and Kurdish women to reclaim our humanity, because in states of numbness, humans are reduced to bodies, figments, and payments. Women’s transition into selfhood requires a reflection on the violence we have suffered, strength from the past, as well as creative new visions for humanity, as the old, however inspiring, may still keep us in cycles of subservience and domination. As an artist and scholar, sakina seeks to unite facts with truth so that women’s transition into selfhood can be both fortified and tender. sakina earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Creative Writing from Bryn Mawr College, an M.A. in Religion and Literature from Yale Divinity School’s Institute of Sacred Music, and has been selected as a Mellon Mays, Fulbright, and Yale-China Fellow. As an artist, her work has been featured at the Camra Screening Scholarship Media Festival at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust in Brooklyn, the Yale Off Broadway Theater, Yale Edgewood Gallery, and the Self-Organized Performance Biennial on Art and Politics in Athens, Greece.
All of you have shells scarred with the ravages of patriarchy detailing old fights, some of which you lost. It was a world full of predators and struggle, so you learned to live in your shells Permanently.
Turtle women, you tell me to vomit my words onto the page while you purse your closed lips. Turtle women, you ask me to undress so you can fix me my broken body while you stand there in your buttoned-up white coat and cashmere turtleneck. Turtle women, you request my whole life story told in numbers and factoids while you robotically type at your workstation.
You hide your true selves in the name of doing your duty.
In my parent’s living room, hidden in the pages of a dusty scrapbook, there’s a picture of a bright-faced little girl staring eye-to-eye with a turtle at the zoo, separated by a piece of glass.
They teach us young feminists to smash glass ceilings, but not how to speak through the glass walls that separate us from you beautiful turtle women
Someday I’d like to walk with you, to truly know you and understand the scars that roughen your shells and toughen your hearts. But now I’ll just observe from the other side of the glass,
As the person with the honor of writing the first staff blog post, I thought I’d share this poem I wrote at the beginning of this school year, which I feel encapsulates the unique nature of the adventures of being a student at a women’s college. Less than a hundred days away from my graduation, I’m appreciating my Smith experience more and more, and I’m so going to miss this women’s college environment.
Sweat-soaked and scalp-strained
from hot days and high buns,
we are drawn to the river,
after dinner, after dark.
The path is smooth; we need no flashlight
the moon is a crescent; it peers through the leaves.
Clothes shed, shoes kicked,
our toes sink into silt
we slip underwater,
icecold and sweet.
The river is smooth; there is no current
the moon is a voyeur; it makes our skin shine.
Skin cooled, clothes dripping
from our blissful solution,
we walk home without towels
Drips in the night.
The pavement is smooth; there are no potholes
the moon is a classmate; it laughs in the sky.