By: Lika Mikhelashvili
Smith College, Northampton MA, USA
By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut
Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
i am from sea and mountains and plains
i am from the weeping willow with its swinging tears from the warm, honeyed tea
and the ginger-mint lemonade
i am from beautiful landscapes
and cozy interiors
with fireplaces, porch swings
and soft classic rock notes sinking in the background
from the cautious sounds
of fingers flying across a keyboard
or the turn of the page, in which my whole universe lied
i am from the wind in the trees
and a full view of the milky way in the night sky
from day hikes and night camps
and picking mushrooms in the forests
i am from the fresh, cold smell of nature
and of the freshly baked bread
i am from the city, the hustle and bustle
of crowded trains and early school mornings
from cozy cafes
and silent libraries
i am from an ever busy city center
and a driven friend group
from weekly musings on philosophy, politics, and principles and heated debates about TV shows
from the silent nights in my room, alone
to outings with friends or game nights with my baby brother i am from rushed outings for bubble tea and sushi
and always sprinting home because of my curfew
from hurried writing sessions
and late-night reading ones
i am from the feeling of the book in my hand
and the wandering hands across the spines in my bookshelf the gentle, warm feeling of belonging
By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut
Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
i miss the stars
the night sky, riddled with glittering jewels
the wishes of children
and prayers of elders
i miss looking up, just two hours out of town
and not being able to see one truly dark spot in the sky
i miss the carelessly drawn swipe of watercolour
dashing across the sky
and using some no-name app on my dad’s phone
to find the names of constellations
at the side of my lil brother
“uite acolo! nu, acolo! cum de nu vezi?”
were nights spent out camping
in the fields
with spring water and running skies
i miss being able to see the sky moving
together with the earth
in a menacing swirl of no pollution and cutting, cold night air
feeling small and, at the same time, meaningful
i would sacrifice hot showers for the trip
all over again
who needs running water when you have 5-litre water bottles?
vorbind de dusuri
imi e dor de dusurile de stele cazatoare
si simplul act de uitat in sus si vazut un univers… mai multe? n-as putea zice i miss making up new constellations
and ‘that’s a shopping cart, not a bear’
and wondering what the night sky looks like someplace else
imi este dor de cerul de acasa
and it’s the first thing i’ll get a glimpse at
once i’m back
By: Eliza Siegel
Barnard College, New York City, United States
in my empty summer bedroom
dreaming in blue
I cradle my stomach, a hollow cavern
from which I cannot see the sky
seeking pleasure, or something stronger
than pleasure, I switch the fan on,
am hit not
with air but
tonight the house is damp with a desire affixed
I converse with the silence,
scratch my skin as if
to wriggle out,
I long to escape the butter-lamplight that
casts my freckles as frenzied ants
and mottles the bruises
down my calf
coalescing in a peninsular shadow
before scattering again, undone
how can I cry out when my mouth is full of moths?
stifled, giving in to the ecstasy of gnats
cresting my head
I forget I am alone,
cradled by a swarm of ghosts
quiet is unhooking each vertebra from the next
before sinking into bed.
I am from the brick and tin-roofed house
From the thickly carpeted living room floor
I am from the cold, red concrete floor of my bedroom
From the soapy water and scented cleaning detergent
I am from the ancient creaky oakwood bed
From the possession of a duvet I’ve adored for years
I am from the tiny framed portraits hanging from my wall
From the 14-year-old picture album of my family on my dresser
I am from the pictures of daddy’s well-combed afro
From mummy’s loosely fitting bell-bottoms
I am from the childhood memories of weekends spent at public parks
From the lakeside camps and bonfires and road trips
I am from the evening painting lessons with mama
From the sum solving sessions with daddy
I am from the pillow fights and real fights with my sisters
From the nights we fell asleep in each other’s arms
I am from the dim lights at the fireplace
From the bright light at my study table
I am from the big bowls of soup and potatoes at dinner
From the house where candy and cookies are forbidden
But now I’m here.
I am from cement floors,
From vast spaces of farmland
And packed, stuffy traffic.
I am from goats and cows that roam where their ropes allow them to go,
And chickens that roam freely.
I am from kungu FM,
The station that is the primary source of news, gospel and local hits.
I am from meat that boils from dawn to noon,
And smells up the whole house.
How else would we make it soft?
I am from jiko’s and sigiri’s,
From food flavoured in banana leaves:
matooke nne ebigendareko.
I am from a dining table that is never big enough.
I am from gomesi’s, muchanana’s and kanzu’s.
I am from the heat.
I was born there and would like to die there.
I am from distant relatives, who I seldom know,
And functions that I always go.
I am from feeding the goats,
Putting down the mosquito nets,
And boiling water to bathe.
From the fresh air, but also the polluted air,
From the view of the lake that provides us with fresh fish.
I am from fighting over who eats the eye,
And buying nsenene by the road side.
I am from family and love.
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.
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.
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.
Artist Statement: My photographs are autobiographical in nature, influenced by personal memories, emotions, and current experiences. They revolve around issues of identity, change, and being out of time. Breaking Through is a self-portrait that signals the possibility of removing self-barriers and scars of the past and moving forward.
I tugged at the braids coiled around the back of my head. They were thick and itchy and the bobby pins made my head ache. The church was sweltering hot and my black dress draped heavily across my knees. I had asked Maeve if I could wear shorts, and she said no, because it would be disrespectful. Maeve also braided my hair, since Mom was too busy getting ready. She was probably also too busy being sad, since it was her sister who died.
My aunt Eileen always wore her hair down. Maeve liked to braid it when she was my age, but Aunt Eileen always let me undo the braids when Maeve was finished. “Freedom!” she used to say when I finished. It made us both laugh. Aunt Eileen had long, smooth hair that was brown with little stripes of grey at the top. My own hair was frizzy and the color of the dirty linoleum tiles in my elementary school hallways.
Maeve saw me fidgeting with my hair and swatted my hand away. I glared at her. She took my hand in hers and squeezed, a little too hard to be friendly.
“Can I please undo it?” I whispered. Maeve pinched the skin on the back of my hand. I almost cried out, but I stopped myself just in time. Music swelled—well, it was too dreary to swell. It really just got louder and sadder, if that was possible. The men sitting in the row in front of me stood up and gathered around the casket. Maeve loosened her grip on my hand. I inched my other hand towards the back of my head as the men lifted the casket and began to carry it down the aisle. People around me shifted in their pews to watch them leave so I did too. I saw Uncle Frank, cousin Theo, and a few other men I only slightly recognized lifting on either side of the enormous wooden box. It didn’t really seem like Aunt Eileen was in there. If she was, she would pop out like a jack-in-the-box and make us all laugh at how dramatic we were being.
While Maeve’s head was turned towards the men, I used my hand that wasn’t pinned under hers to yank the bobby pins from my braid. They came out with little clumps of hair still attached. The men carrying the casket that was somehow holding Aunt Eileen reached the doors at the back of the church and my hair finally fell out of its coil. It was still braided, but I could almost feel the strands of hair unbraiding themselves. They were reaching out like plants growing towards light. I extracted my other hand from underneath Maeve’s and began to use both hands to unweave my hair. Maeve suddenly snapped back towards me.
“Fallon!” she hissed. I heard a soft thud as an attendant closed the doors behind the men and the casket. The pastor began speaking again but I couldn’t pay attention. Maeve was furiously pulling my hair back into place. I could feel the stare of a church lady behind me hot on my neck.
Maeve finished fixing my hair just as the pastor instructed us to make our way out to the cemetery behind the church. Maeve shoved one last pin into my hair where it jabbed at my scalp like a sharp-beaked bird. She grabbed my hand and I tried to wriggle away to no avail. I was much too old to hold someone’s hand, even if that someone was my sister and even though we were at a funeral where it seemed like everyone was holding hands and hugging. We filed out of the pews and joined our parents, who had been sitting in the front row. My mom was holding a tissue up to her eyes and my dad was holding her hand in both of his like a small and wounded bird. He was holding it tightly but in a way that meant she was protected, not captive. When he saw us he let go of her hand with one of his and put his arm around both of our shoulders.
“Come on, girls,” he said. “Let’s see Auntie Eileen off.” We walked outside in an awkward family clump, too close together to step normally. Maeve finally let go of my hand when we got to the hole for the casket. I saw her wind her fingers together and pick at her cuticles. If Mom had been watching she would have said something, but she was too busy staring blankly at the hole in the dirt.
“Remember when we used to play here?” I asked Maeve.
Maeve shushed me. “This is still a funeral, Fallon.”
“I know,” I said, “I’m not stupid. I’m just saying, remember how we used to play hide-and-seek behind the gravestones? That was really fun. Maybe someday kids will play around Aunt Eileen’s gravestone.”
“Don’t be morbid, Fallon,” said Maeve.
“What does ‘morbid’ mean?” I asked. My dad looked down at me as if he had just begun listening to our conversation.
“‘Morbid’ means something that is related to death,” he said. “What do you think is morbid, Maeve?”
“Fallon was saying that she hopes kids will play around Aunt Eileen’s grave someday.” Maeve looked at me and then back at my dad like I was a baby and she and my dad were both grown-ups.
“I think that’s a wonderful thing to hope, Fallon,” he said. “I think Aunt Eileen would like that very much.” My mom nodded, looking up from the hole in the dirt.
“Aunt Eileen and I played in this cemetery when we were your age,” she said.
“I didn’t know that,” I said. I tried to imagine my mom and Aunt Eileen when they were my age. They were only two years apart. From pictures I knew that my mom looked a lot like me and Aunt Eileen looked a lot like Maeve. If I concentrated really hard, I could pretend that I saw Aunt Eileen as a little girl poking her head over a gravestone and smiling at me. Her smile went up to her eyes the way that Maeve’s did when we were younger. The more I thought about it, the more the imaginary girl smiling at me looked like Maeve, not Aunt Eileen, and then when I looked at the casket my first thought was that Maeve was inside it. For the first time since Aunt Eileen had died, I started to cry.
My dad noticed and he knelt down and lifted me up into a hug. I wrapped my legs around his waist like I had when I was much smaller. My mom reached past me to hold Maeve’s hand. When I had finally stopped crying and my dad set me back on the ground, I saw Maeve squirming her fingers out of my mom’s grasp.
The road was too wide. Natalie’s favorite Willie Nelson song was playing at top volume, yet Jessie could still hear Erin crunching on potato chips a few inches away from her ear.
“You know the next exit, Jess?” Erin shouted through a mouthful of Frito Lays, her feet wedged against the glove compartment.
Jessie nodded, feeling too sick to respond. She knew she should probably pull over and let Erin take the wheel, but despite her white knuckles and churning stomach, she preferred to be in charge.
Natalie and Erin had nominated Jessie as the primary driver on the journey from Pittsburgh to the Grand Canyon, and she had been more than happy to oblige. It was her car after all, a brand-new green pickup truck that set her apart from all the other students at their college. She assured her friends that she genuinely loved driving. It was the open road she couldn’t stand.
When people talk about the Great American West, they always dwell on the open road. People describe it as something grand and gorgeous and all-American. No one ever mentions that along the panhandle of Oklahoma, the plains of Texas, and the desert of New Mexico, there are stretches of road that seem as barren and foreign as the moon. These gaping spaces in the landscape made Jessie feel entirely alone, even with her two best friends in the car.
Willie Nelson crooned on, lamenting about lost love, reminiscing about times gone by, and charting new adventures on—what else? —the open road.
“On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again,” Natalie sang along, trailing her hand out the window. The open road made Jessie want to close herself into a box and never leave.
When she looked out at the expanse in front of her, she had a sensation she knew all too well. It was the same feeling she’d had when she visited the library as a little girl, and realized that she would never be able to read every book on its shelves because new books were constantly arriving. It was the same feeling she had when she thought about how many nameless bodies laid buried and forgotten in ancient graveyards, and how deeply unknowable they all were now. It was the same feeling she’d had when she imagined the beauty of every possible alternate universe in which she did anything other than follow her high school boyfriend to college.
It was crushed diamonds slipping through her fingers. It was a world too big to hold, a sun too bright to see. She felt as if she needed to peel back her eyelids to take in everything that was in front of her. She needed to split open her body just to take up enough space to exist.
She convulsed involuntarily. Her arms jerked the steering wheel to the side. Natalie and Erin screamed, but Jessie remained stony-faced.
“What the hell?” shouted Erin. Her shoulder slammed into the window as the car veered to the side of the road and lurched to a halt.
“Is everybody okay?” asked Erin as she took stock of the car. Her voice was far louder than it needed to be in the suddenly still car. It rang out desperately over the soft strumming of Willie Nelson that still fell through the speakers.
“Fine,” said Natalie shakily.
“Jessie?” asked Erin. Jessie slowly unlocked the driver’s side door, unhooked her seatbelt, and stumbled out of the car. As soon as she was free, she stomped on the ground, desperate to feel her feet make contact with something, anything. The ground was unyielding, and her feet left no mark, so she turned to the next largest thing she could find: her truck. She raised her foot and felt a solid crunch where her steel-toed boot met the driver’s side door. She yelped and fell back, clutching her foot.
“Jessie!” Erin shouted. She scrambled to untangle herself from the seatbelt and pushed through the passenger side door. Natalie sat in the backseat, her chest heaving. When Erin joined Jessie outside, she found her retching on the side of the road, hobbling on her injured foot. Willie Nelson serenaded her through the open car door.
“What the hell was that?” asked Erin. “Are you okay? You looked totally spooky right before you crashed us. Like you were about to pass out or something.”
“It’s just…” gasped Jessie, still bent over, “I couldn’t… I don’t know.” Erin put a hand on her back tentatively.
“You’re alright, Jess. Nobody’s hurt. The car looks fine… except for that.” She eyed the dent that Jessie had made. “You could probably get that fixed, right? It’s all good. Why don’t you get in the back with Nat? I’ll drive.”
“Okay,” breathed Jessie. She was surprised to hear her own voice fill the space around her like a shield. It was the only sound to be heard for miles. Sometime in the moments after they had run off the road, Natalie had turned off the Willie Nelson album.
The road is too wide. It stretches into infinity, wider and wider, going against everything I know about perception.
When my daughter was first born, she cried and cried when we drove. My mother had told me that the gentle motion of wheels against road would soothe her, but it was just the opposite. The first time I took her in the car, we were driving to my mother’s house down the highway that cut through the cornfields between our Pennsylvania towns. I looked into the backseat and saw my baby’s eyes fixed on the road in front of us. Her face trembled with a fear that I recognized immediately: fear of a dead end, fear of paralysis, fear of finite space. Her eyes were tracing the long, flat road and saw it shrink to extinction on the horizon. In her mind that dot was our destination, and we were destined to crash.
But we didn’t crash, of course. Perception worked in our favor, and what once seemed thin as a thread opened wider as we reached it, wide enough to let even a dented, secondhand pickup truck pass through comfortably. My baby learned what all babies must learn: what looks like an end is only a continuation. A heart isn’t broken when it breaks. Her mother isn’t gone forever when she leaves the room.
Now the road is too wide, and I’m heading towards its unending sprawl with no baby in the backseat and no heart left to break. I left her in her crib this morning. I tiptoed in to kiss her on the forehead and she shifted in her sleep. Had she woken and looked into my eyes she would have paralyzed me, trapped me there in her room, held me to the floor beside her crib, and I would never have gotten in this car or out on this road. But she stayed asleep, so I kissed her and slunk from the room.
I should have done this before she could speak, before she could cry out “Mama,” before she had grown to think that I would always come back when she called. My own mother will be there by now, ready to pick my baby up to bring her to the nursery school where she works. She will let herself into the house expecting to see me sitting at the breakfast table with my baby dressed and eating beside me. Instead she will find my baby crying in her crib, still in her pajamas, alone and unfed. I focus on the road and try to let the picture in my mind fly out of the open passenger window.
The road is so wide it eats up the periphery of my vision and consumes my mind as well. All I see is road.
The road is my future, and it is swallowing me whole.
The road was too wide.
“Are we there yet?” my brother Neil asked.
I felt my breath being sucked out of my lungs, through the car window and into the abyss.
“How about now?”
Neil stuck his hand out of the window and waved it, fanning the open air into the car.
“Stop that,” I said. “The air conditioning is on.” I slammed hard on the button to roll up the window. It shuddered but remained open. It would be a miracle if our busted pickup, dubbed the Green Giant by Neil, made it to Colorado in one piece.
“Mari, don’t bother him,” my mom said.
“Yeah,” said Neil, “it’s for my closet-phobia.” My mom nodded.
Ever since my seven-year-old brother had had a panic attack inside the elevator to my aunt’s apartment, he had been seeing a therapist for anxiety and “closet-phobia,” as he put it.
Before Neil’s diagnosis, I had thought that things like claustrophobia and anxiety only happened to emo teenagers and aging psychotic poets. After he was diagnosed, I began to look for signs of mental illness in every person I knew:
My eighth-grade teacher. My elderly neighbor. My older cousin.
I was convinced that the very existence of anxiety was giving me anxiety. Neil, however, seemed less bothered by his anxiety than any anxious person had a right to be. In the seat next to me he sang a song he had made up after his first visit to a therapist. She had given him a worksheet to begin writing down the “tools” she gave him to deal with his anxiety.
“Closet-phobia, closet-phobia, use your toolbox so you don’t explodia,” he chimed to himself.
“Close the window or I’ll make you explodia,” I muttered.
“Why do you care so much?” he whined.
“It’s bothering me,” I said. “It’s not like driving in the city. Bugs could come flying in here.”
“I like bugs,” said Neil. The car picked up speed to pass an enormous truck.
“My papers could blow away in the wind!” I cried, clutching my sketchbook to my chest. “Everything could blow away.”
“Everything? Like what?” asked Neil. “How?”
“There’s too much space out there,” I said. It was true. Back home in New York City, cars moved slower than Neil could walk, and everything was held securely in place between the skyscrapers. The farther we drove away from New York and towards our new home in Colorado, the looser the world became. Cows roamed unfenced. Pages ripped themselves from my sketchbook. The road sprawled for what felt like years with nothing to tame it.
I could feel Neil watching me watch the scenery go by out the car window.
“I feel like you have the opposite of closet-phobia,” said Neil. “The Earth is too little for me but too big for you. Is that because you’re growing up?”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I said. “If I’m growing up, everything should seem littler. Like how you used to not be able to reach the sink in the bathroom, but now you can. You got bigger and the world got smaller.”
“No,” said Neil. “When you grow up you have to think about bigger things. Like taxes and the news.” I heard my mom chuckle from the front seat. “The world does get bigger,” Neil said. “Maybe you’re just not ready.”
“Then what does that make you?” I asked.
“I guess I’m just ready too early. I gotta wait for the world to get bigger before I grow more.”
“The world will be plenty bigger in Colorado,” my mom said from the front seat. “Plenty of space for both of you to be as big or as little as you want.”
Off in the distance I noticed the peaks of mountains that seemed to rise out of the ground like alien skyscrapers. Maybe the roads in Colorado would be held in after all; not quite as tightly as the skyscrapers would hold it, but just loose enough for Neil to feel comfortable, too.
That rule was begging to be broken
Y’know the one about women?
Of conformity for cat calls and
Gift-wrapped shoulders and legs?
How about “no” to breastfeeding?
How about “whore” for “too revealing”?
I’m sick of these notions, they’re too unappealing.
I am a nonconformist of a woman
The one that daunts you in your wake.
Come at me with your “don’ts” for women–
I’ll show you my scars of everyday crusades.
I’ve battled tirades of piercing tongues;
Of sharp fingers engraved into skins.
I’m supposed to be hidden beneath them
Because I walk like I’m a woman
Because I walk like a human being.
But I stomp these woman feet of mine
To tell you “That ain’t gonna be me,”
Nor will it be any woman in this world
‘Cause that rule was begging to be broken
When women marched for gender equality.
The words are right there
Hanging in the strands of my gray hair
This problem is something I can’t bear
I just can’t reach them; this illness is unfair
Who’s that? I remember that face
Where am I? I remember this place
My memory is losing the race
As past knowledge dies with no trace
Who am I? What’s my name?
Why can’t I win this twisted game?
This disease is all to blame
It leaves me frustrated, burning like a flame
My brain is empty and no answers are coming out
I stomp my feet and start to pout
This is some sick memory drought
Wait, what was I thinking about?
I shake my head and pick up a photo
Who’s that pretty lady in it, though?
There’s no resemblance to show
But those eyes have a familiar glow
I ask the nurse who’s standing by the door
After showing it to her, her face grows red, more and more
Of course, I don’t know that I’ve seen her before
Or that she’s my sister Lenore
I drop the picture and walk away
Leaving behind a memento in such a careless way
For in that picture stood my daughter Kay
Smiling on her gracious wedding day
The place where I am living tries to tell the story of my life so far. It does not hold memories.
It does not yet hold memories.
But that is okay. I breathe that down and trust that the memories will come.
I do not feel God here. I do not yet feel God here. I trust that she will speak through this place. But, so far, she only speaks through home. What does that mean about God? What does that mean about home?
The story of my life told by this place that barely knows my name sounds like the girls laughing in the hall upstairs while I do homework. It is told through my daily naps and the photos on the wall that spell out “CLE.”
This place does not know me yet. Still, she will tell you that I was the first person to visit her archives this year. “That was all I needed to know,” she says with a smile.
This place has only held me for forty-three days, but she has heard all of my secrets through the window of a psychologist’s office on Main Street. This place tells the story of my brokenness, but she didn’t do any of the breaking.
She did not yet do any of the breaking.
This place does not wipe away my tears, but she does absorb them. She calls to a city far away and tells her to bring tissues. When this place where I am living tells my story, she holds out her hands to show you the tears as they pool in her palms, but Cleveland has already wiped them up.
This place tells you that I don’t sing much, but she is lying. She knows that she is lying because, although she cannot hear my voice, she can feel how much I miss it.
This place where I am living cannot tell my whole story.
This place where I am living cannot yet tell my whole story.
But she waits.
We are both waiting.