Self-Portrait as Chronic Illness; Piecing Her Body

Elina Katrin

Hollins University, Roanoke, VA, USA

Self-Portrait as Chronic Illness

Piecing Her Body

Today she is taking her body back. 

A lioness, she walks from apartment to house, collecting pieces of her, some hidden, 

   some forgotten in the couch crevices, on the nightstand, behind the back door.

Each time someone claimed her hips too big, face too hairy, breasts too small

   she is taking it back with the power of a thousand ants, the dedication of a magnet.

She doesn’t have to look far: bits of her worth are scattered all over her family home,

   stuffed in blanket covers, spit out fresh at the dinner table. 

She picks up parts of her body—undermined, underappreciated and all things under—

   dusts them off from foreign opinions and returns where they belong.

Within, she starts a fire from shame & hiding, sharp-voiced and determined, scissoring 

   stereotypes, dodging hypocrisy like it is finally that bitch o’clock and she is not rescheduling. 

In the mirror, she splits atoms all over her being, colonies of acceptance 

   and loving energy sliding down her stomach and thighs. 

Today she is taking her body back. And tomorrow. And the day after.

The Chaibandi

By: Harika Bommana

Hollins University, Virginia USA

The sun projects its powerful rays; the proud God can never conceal his strength. Drops of sweat flow down the necks of brown men, hitting the ignoble road made for loathing, taunting the struggle and hardship of their small but honorable Dukhan.

The aroma of potato and onion-stuffed irani samosas fills the air, sizzling its way from a rusty old pan of boiling oil. When the samosas reach a golden brown, the men crunch into their skins, satisfying their taste buds as they mourn to the richness of a cheap taste that echoes their desi souls.

Piquant spices and herbs fill the air like a mystical spell, enhancing the dancing cinnamon, dominating black leaves in a mud pot like the dramatic shows once performed for ancient rulers. The old chaiwala showcases one of his many talents by pouring the masala tea from one glass to another as he sings ‘chai’ like the karnatic raghas.

The rusty metal box, clinging to every century-old wire within, plays romantic Hindi songs as giggling girls play and sing along in their school dresses, hair neatly combed and oiled, tied in two braids with red ribbons. The chaiwala’s wrinkled wife feels nostalgic as she watches them through her wooden window, smiling and humming to herself as she chops vegetables in a steel plate.

At this moment–this very moment–my heart is overwhelmed with pride. Looking at the sky and everything around me, my foot lands on this sacred ground, and I have never felt richer.

I am home.

For Fellowship

By: Marci Batchelor

Hollins University, Virginia, USA

You are back & side & make a be space
out of silent patches on other side & going toward
the going there doing silver mix between silver
& silver of tinker, toy, & fix. How can I really
know you man by your shell shape & teeth smile
walk face; little do you do to say hi to weather news
the flowers pretty nice, maybe some same maybe some
different, & maybe you’re some caring & maybe
you’re some busy & maybe you’re some shy,
& maybe you too see me go & too think maybe of me
go too go, but most likely no, most likely yes, probably
maybe though, most likely you see lots of round
& square things, God’s things: zinnias, snails, apples,
& charcoal colored sparrows. Real things: shovels
& hammers. Probably you know how it is to fly passenger
in a 747, ride a flat-tired bike, how it is to know sharp things,
tired things, how it is to drop sighs & do harm, & I see you
an older neighbor man who means nothing at all to me
yet who may mean an ocean of bubbly emerald to another.