My True Home

By: Gentille Kampire Constance

Davis College, Akilah Campus Rwanda

 

The immaterial part of a human being

Which keeps all of us living

Where we find ourselves loving

With Limits or limitless

That’s what I call home.

My heart,

Origin of my personality,

Where I reflect with no one

Find reason for whole

That is my true home.

Where memories never fade

And passion keeps pushing.

Where all dreams come true

With strong feelings and emotions.

Where I can’t lie to myself

Show how special I am

That is my true home.

 

My Mother; My Home

By: Gentille Kampire Constance

Davis College, Akilah Campus Rwanda

 

“Why am I even alive?” I cried loudly covering my face with hands. “How can this happen to us? What wrong have we done to be punished with losing all of them?” I said with tears trickling around my cheeks. My mother smiled and bent over to me. She hugged me with one hand tapping my back and another hand holding me tight to her. 

“It will be okay, dear. I am here for you as I will always be.” I will never forget these words because everything has been okay from that day on.

She was a mother and a father, a friend and a sibling, a teacher and a counsellor. In her arms I find true love, happiness and empathy. In such moments, I feel secure and comfortable. As I listen to her heart beat, I wish I could stay forever in her arms. It was hard for both of us, my mother and I. I was only ten years old, in third grade. I needed school fees, school supplies, and money for shopping as my father had promised. On the other hand, we needed food to eat, water, electricity, and other groceries. My mother was unemployed with no education qualifications to apply for any decent job. My father was our breadwinner. He had a master’s degree in computer science and got a job to work in one of the tech companies in the city. We were not that rich, but life was comfortable for us. His income was enough for the family to meet our basic needs. Life was satisfactory.

Not one of us had dreamt about the accident, which caused us to lose our father and my two brothers. It was a car crash which left us alone in this world of pain and wounds of the soul which will never be healed. Maybe we should have stopped them from going to church that day or found other reasons for them to stay with us. They are no longer alive, they went home. However, I have never felt lonely since that day because my mother was there for me. She raised me lovingly. She opened my soul’s doors to happiness and blocked all the sad doors in my heart. With her around I am secure and comfortable. She never laughs at me or makes fun of me, instead she makes sure that I am doing well. I love her more than anything else. She is my home, my lovely shelter, and the greatest gift I have been given from the Lord.

Where I’m From

By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 

i am from sea and mountains and plains

and hills

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 

 

I Miss the Stars

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 

 

Unpaid

By Pranchal Gupta

Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, India

 

A service that remains unpaid,

A full-time job over the years.

Amazing profession, but without promotion,

Neither appreciation nor recognition.

Double work on holidays without any extra pay.

The lunch box is ready, packed with love.

Her whole day is full of work,

From washing the clothes to cleaning the floor.

After the restless day,

Dinner is ready on the table with the same love.

She wakes up the earliest and falls asleep last,

Although the next day,

She needs to repeat the whole task.

She is your mother or your sweetheart,

Whom you call a housewife,

Doing nothing, staying at home,

She is the one who works the whole day,

To make it a home sweet home.

Pistachio

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

                dust

 

tonight the house is damp with a desire affixed

 

to nothing.

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

madly dancing

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. 

 

My Home is My Foundation

By: Mutoni Oliva

Davis College Akilah Campus, Akilah, Rwanda

 

Here I am standing strong

Holding hands of my own

Feeling loved and united

Screaming loud with my voice

This is what I came to tell

My choice, chance, family

All rolled into one

My home is my foundation.

 

I remember the day I was born

Too young to see the danger

Too blind to see the evil

fear making me run away

From those who loved me

Pushing me down into the vanity,

blindfolding me from every reality

The walls of my foundation protected me

From outside forces

Made me stand tall and never let fall.

 

They removed me from dark zone raising me to a comfort zone

Desperate for their love

Encouraging me to win not to lose

They trusted me when others doubted me

Every time I fell they pushed me up

Even shedding tears never let me drop one

Their support is till the end as always in the start.

 

My home dragged me through hard days

Brought a smile on my face that stays

What would I do without you dear home?

Your love and care stays in my heart

Beautiful sealed with a ribbon of trust

Soft and tender it’s warm and calm

Peacefully resting in my treasured mind.

 

The epitome of sacrifice, kindness of your heart

Taught me the value of the right start

The many compromises which you made for me

No one could see but I had to see

A perfect role that you played in my life

Helped me with my struggle and strive.

 

                        My home,

You are someone who loved me no matter who I was

Someone who cared for me no matter what happens

Someone who understands the deepest of my feelings

Someone who shares the best trust i have ever found

Someone who never change even if the whole world does

That someone it is my first love well known as my home, my foundation my entire world.

 

 

Your reflection is enough for me to know

Your laughter feels my heart with joy

Your love is silent when you show the many things that you do for me

When I close my eyes and I don’t see you I feel that I have lost in all

Your my light at the end of the tunnel

Today is because of your love that makes me stand tall

 

 

My home, your love and longing in life it’s the thing that I want all mine

Promise me that it will never change but will remain the same in hue

My home, your foundation is an inspiration for my life

I am blessed to belong to this sunshine that shines every day

I am not shy to say that with you I am only surviving and destined to fly

You are a home and without I would be homeless.

Awakening of a Warrior

By Yvette Dusabimana

Davis College Akilah Campus, Akilah, Rwanda

Nothing can stop her to believe,

Every morning is her new day to dream

Smile on her face, making herself and winding her waist;

She doesn’t know when, or how it will all end

The pain she gains, the scars all over her body

But she doesn’t care, she will rise again.

 

And rise she did, all her pain forgotten

Her tears wiped, her scars healed,

Her wings unfolded, and flies towards the sun,

Darkness behind her, she will never fall again.

 

Home

By Elizabeth Wayua Ndinda

Davis College Akilah Campus, Akilah, Rwanda

In a sleepy hilly village in Nyanza lies the home of Biage (her name means a granary). It is a compound of low roofed houses for each of his sons and grandsons. Each son also has a little grass thatched hut for all of their daughters. By the standards of Randani, (which is corrupted from London; maybe most of the villagers who live abroad end up in London and not Texas or Minnesota as I have always believed) this is a prosperous compound. There are cars parked in four of the compounds, motorcycles in some and even terrazzo pavements in one compound. The number of compounds in Biage’s homestead cannot be counted. It is a taboo to give a number to one’s children. This compound is fenced by the most prestigious plant in the region; bananas.

This is actually the banana republic. Welcome to Kisii County where bananas reign supreme. We do not only eat the sweet bananas but sell them for a living. Bananas are some of the county’s cash crops. Tea and avocado are the others. So too is sugarcane. These bananas are not only exported to Nairobi, but also to other countries of the world. Curiously, we never eat plantains. It is food for the weak. We, the people who call the banana county home, prefer millet ugali or the maize one if millet is scarce. West Africans call our ugali fufu.

Bananas also serve as a transport system for our famous night runners. They are believed to fly with the leaves at night. There are very potent concoctions on clumps of bananas. One is advised not to spend too long a lingering moment near any. The village rises and falls with the health of banana plants. That is why Biage made reference to this plant when she paid a rather surprise call to the home of his first born son one Friday morning.

You see, Biage had heard that his great grandson had been brought home from another Nyanza looking place called Rwanda. As was the tradition, the child had to get a ride on her back to be accepted into the clan. The little boy, unaware of the tradition, declined the offer. The confusion that ensued cannot be explained in words. Biage had left her warm bed at the crack of dawn to brace the dew and drizzle on a motorcycle to fulfill this tradition. She had travelled all the way from Randani to Magena (which can mean eggs or stones depending on the context). She had stilled her cracking bones with each bump on the ride. Her face had been beaming with a smile on this journey despite her circumstances, as this was a chance to bless the third generation of the great Nyatangi clan.

On inquiring why the boy had refused to climb on her back, “She is an old woman, it is disrespectful to make her carry a load as heavy as me.” Any persuasion did not dissuade him.

Now was Biage’s turn to take matters in her own hands literally. Her time was running out.

There is a banana tree outside this gate (pointing at the nearest one) Can that tree bear any bananas without the other lifeless tree supporting it? 

No

The boy’s older siblings replied

Which of these is alive, the banana tree or the other stick supporting it.

The banana tree of course.

While this story was being narrated, the little boy was resting easy on Biage’s back. He had no idea how he got there. Who in this great family had surprised the boy in to obedience without resistance?

 

Of the E’s in Life

By: Nanjiba Zahin

Asian University for Women, Bangladesh

Within a world of your own making, you cannot stop growing. It should be unthinkable to be negligent towards any Experience and any Emotions that you go through, for all of them make you who you really are and will help you in the path of discovering yourself. Downplaying your emotions and experiences cannot lead to an understanding of self or, beyond that, an understanding of life. Owning them, instead, translates into a kind of proprietorship and can define how much you know yourself, as well as how you want the world to view you. These emotions that you have, and every memory you created of, from, and for them, tell your story– which you author. So own them. They are you. They speak of you as you speak of them.

Every wracking cry, with the loss of someone from life and earth, accompanied by grief and pain and clouds of sadness is you.

Your earthy smile, with pressed lips or not, the styling of which is yours only, is you.

Your raw laughter, loud and weird, oozing happiness and moments of joy, is you.

Your blazing anger when it doesn’t feel right, when you witness a wrong-doing, when you cannot fathom how something like that could possibly happen– that feeling of heat and anger is you.

And feelings of simple nothingness, when, simply put, you feel emotionless and numb– you feel nothing… that is also you.

The hundreds of other feelings that you encounter are valid in their own way. They are results of our experiences and our ways of life. How you ensure your emotional wellbeing and approach what you want to express depends solely on your interpretations of what life has to offer you. Connecting yourself to the warmth, tenderness, energy, and vibe of each emotion can make you realize what you are, who you are, and how you are you. Stop and consider that. It’s a cycle, really; your experiences turn to emotions, and your emotions turn to experiences. That’s natural, but it requires work to feel as though these emotions and experiences are yours.

So, as you make memories because of and for your emotions, jump into your experiences. Fully realizing the depth and length of your experience is hard work, but it can also be extremely easy. It takes inquisitiveness and interest; approachability; courage. It takes the feeling of being a free soul with an open mind, ready to learn and grow through experience.

 

Embrace your mind and memories; embellish your soul, and see how it all fits.

 

You and I? We define our lives and the experiences and emotions that come out of it.

Staff Post: Aviva Green

Haredim Women’s Education

Last semester I wrote a research paper for my First Year Seminar, Educating Women at Home and Abroad. The paper was about women’s education in ultra orthodox Jewish society in Israel, the Haredim. What I found struck me because the Haredim have created a Jewish world that is so different from mine. The life I lead as a Jewish woman is unlike the lives these Haredi Jewish women lead in a society conceived around strict formations of culture and customs, all centered around Judaism.

Reflecting on this paper as well as my life as a Jewish woman at college, I thought about how two Jewish women can have drastically different experiences. It was fascinating to learn how women in the Haredi society are educated with their societal roles as mothers and wives in mind. These women are educated within the insular sphere that is the Haredim, keeping their society intact. As a Jewish woman myself, it was striking to study how these women’s educations are so rooted not only in their religion, but the specific place they hold in their society. Education in these two societies plays very different roles, especially in the way it is formatted to relate to women.

Growing up in the American educational system, Judaism was so divorced from my formal education. I grew up in two worlds, the public school system and a Jewish community learning about Jewish culture, customs, and religion. Judaism in my life signified a community that practices similar customs rather than a structural way of life. Judaism for me is a way of connecting with people, while also partaking in traditions, rather than a type of law. The divergence of my Jewish experience from other women’s experiences speaks to the diversity of the roles religion plays in people’s lives.

Tatanka Oyate

By: Maya Bailey-Clark

Simmons College, Massachusetts, USA

Inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, written in response to the following video: 


These animals heard blood rolling under the earth.
They came in wide swaths across the plains,
Great Buffalo with heads bent and hirsute
called to that spot in dreams,
a shadow passing through the canvas of the tent.

Thousands stopped to listen to the rumble of them,
to yip from the tops of trucks while the pump of bullets
popping rubber against skin made maps of their ribs,
dark purple budding in wide circles above cartilage.

Over here, the grasses turn brown and then black with
soot from the flames that sleep in the blades of them.
I see a woman pacing with her child at her breast,
his mouth open wide to the aftertaste of sacrifice.

Fall 2016: Letter from the Editors

Welcome, readers, to this rich compilation of visual and written works brought to us by young women writers and artists from around the world. We are thrilled to share our Fall 2016 issue, comprising eleven visual pieces and thirteen works of prose and poetry. From South Africa to South Korea, eighth grade to college, our selected artists individually and collectively reveal what it means to create.

Grounding our work this fall is the theme of “Traditions: Old and New.” As editors, we found tradition a compelling, multivalent prompt—a constant by which to align and contrast diverse experiences, yet an ever-changing entity reflective of our times. Traditions are imbued in our ecology, from nuclear families to countries and cultures; they are instantiated by the foods we eat, the songs we sing in the shower, the ways we grieve and celebrate—tying themselves to our most intimate moments and public lives alike.

What are our traditions as women? Might we find commonality through tradition, and how may we honor our distinct differences? How should we negotiate tensions between our origins and futures? Which traditions do we hold dear, and which do we seek to disrupt? Do we wish to institute new traditions? If you look closely, the following pages seek to answer these questions. Perhaps they will inspire you to ask some of your own.

It is humbling to edit the craftsmanship of women we have never met, to be entrusted with their insights and expressions. To our contributors, thank you for your honest and refreshing perspectives. May the tradition of writing be ever in your fingertips.

Happy reading!

Sincerely,

Brittany Collins, Editor-in-Chief

Beth Derr, Managing Editor

Woman

By: Barbara Atsieno Alusala

St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, Hillcrest, South Africa

 

She burns.

She is a bright, hot, walking eruption of beauty. When she walks, eyes fall on her. The ground beneath her shakes. Plant embryos sprout from the ground in anticipation so as to not miss the spectacle that passes by. Dark skies split open to make way for the sun – for only its radiance is bright enough to surpass her glow. When she speaks, the world is enthralled, holding on to the words she utters as though they were gold. She knows her value and she puts the men who dare to challenge her finesse to shame. Who is she?

She is woman.

Without her glow, the world is dreary and cold. It is lifeless and monotonous. Embryos become stubborn in the ground for they know what awaits them above. The sun retires and appears for short spells, its presence no better than that of a dying streetlight in the night. Without her, the words of the world are corrupt and dry – gasping desperately for justice and life.

Even though she is the source of vivacity, zest, and felicity, many are still oblivious to the significance of her presence. Naïve; they cast their eyes away and deem themselves more powerful – confidently leading their world into annihilation. They doubt Woman’s power and deem her unequal or unfit to lead. Woman allows herself to be brainwashed by their ways. She follows and soon becomes blind to her own radiance. Her feet drag as she walks yet the flowers still bloom in her path and the sun still shines brightly upon her head. She sees it not, for her head droops, her eyes are filled with tears of worthlessness, and her shoulders carry empty struggles. The source of her power – her heart – dampens as she becomes dubious of her capabilities and self-worth.

But I am not.

Stand strong Woman! Stand strong! I say: you are the light and the hope that the world needs. It waits patiently for you. How much longer will you sit despairing in your puddle of self-pity? Do not lose yourself in the ways of this world. Dry your tears! Clear your eyes of the dust that corrupts your visions and aspirations. You have the power to move mountains. Your mind has the strength of a thousand men. Your destiny lies not in the shadows, but in the light, where all can dote in your presence once again. You are beautiful, and you are capable. I know this because I have seen your power and might. I know this because you are Woman. I know this because I am Woman too.

Poesy

By: Madeline Massey
Laurel School, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Our song will always be the luminous late night conversations

Far apart and exhausted and cupping our phones in our hands like injured birds

It’s so fragile this mess I make out of our love

Our song will be what was once hers

The million melodies we’ve threaded through the open ears of other people

My harmony will be my hand on your head and your messy bun

Your lips on someone else’s neck

Sing to me about how the bones jut out on his spine

The curve of his ear

I’ll listen

Sing to me about our bleary eyed sunset glances

The birds we’ll let nestle in other’s hearts

Oh these nests are such fragile things

Sing to me about her robin eggshell thin wrists

I’ll lace twigs in the grooves of your heart

Pink Braces Girl

By: Sofia Ayres-Aronson
Laurel School, Shaker Heights, Ohio

He looks sad, standing there. His face is down, he’s looking at his hands. What’s in his hands? Paper, a little crumpled-up ball of paper, no bigger than a quarter. He says his soul is on ice. He’s wearing jeans and a plain white T-shirt; barefoot because he left his sneakers at the playground. Small ears, small nose, big lips, long toes. He’s standing at the blackboard and his palms are covered in white chalk dust. The last time I saw those palms they were wet and blue and colder than ice. Right when those little hands grasped my arm and I pulled him from wet icy rocks into the ambulance. Blaring lights. Blue hands. Brisk water.

He looks at the purple notes Ms. Burnes wrote on the blackboard. The purple notes bother him, because some letters aren’t purple. The e should be blue, and b is banana yellow, and c is peach. I can see him working this out in his head. The letters bother him. He’s stuck on it. He needs to fix it. His long nimble fingers reach for the eraser, and those long smooth nimble fingers quickly erase the purple grammar lesson. He relaxes as soon as the purple is gone.

He puts his basketball on a desk and unfolds the paper in his hand. I know that basketball- it’s the one his coach gave him after he had to be kicked off the team. The S in SPALDING is scratched out now, and green paint is sprinkled on the side. Wonder where that came from? There’s a knife in his pocket, and he takes it out. No, razor blade. He presses it into his skin and draws an angel (I think it’s an angel) into his wrist. A circle on top of a triangle for a head, wings, and a ring above the circle. Then he starts drawing something around it. Those nimble fingers falter and the blade slips and cuts him where he didn’t want it to go. The angel’s messed up now. He moves his lips, angry, but he can’t make any noise. He can’t let the foster lady see him here, of course he can’t, how could he forget? He presses the paper onto the bleeding angel with a slash down its middle. The blood runs together with the ink on the paper. He slips on his hoodie and picks up his basketball, the blade back in his pocket. Of course, the whole time, he never flinches. Mikey never flinches.

He licks his lips then. He puts the foster certificate with the wet angel-shaped bloodstain in the trash to rest among the old homework and pencil shavings. He runs his fingers down the bookcase, stopping at The Boxcar Children. I know he loves this series. He’s already read this one, though. He lowers his eyes and puts the book back. Then he just stands there, his back to me, and I can’t see what he’s doing, except his long fingers, those long brown fingers which strum his arm like he’s playing the guitar. I heard he played a hymn on his guitar for his father’s funeral. I wonder if he cried. I bet he didn’t cry.

He’s shaved his hair. Afro’s gone. There’s a kind of zig zag drawn in the back of his head, almost like a lightning bolt. The latest fashion. Even eight year olds want to be cool, and Mikey’s always worried about how he looks. I always told him he looks fine. Handsome, really. That pink braces girl Anya, fawned over him. Of course he never noticed.  Mikey notices everything, except for that pink braces girl Anya.

And then he turns around and looks straight at me, straight through me and out the window at the evening sun. His mouth twitches and he thinks about crying, about the comfort of heaving cold, wet little sobs, and watching the sun set, then going home, wherever that is. But he doesn’t allow himself that. Of course he doesn’t, because after all these years, he’s still Mikey, my Mikey, and no matter how much he’s changed, he hasn’t changed at all.

The Fan Ritual, or The Crocuses Died

By: Sarah Marshall
Bryn Mawr, Baltimore, Maryland

*NOTE: The following original poem is based on the painted screen “Women on a Bridge Tossing Fans into a River,” over which I have no claim. A link to the image is below for reference. The screen is currently in exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/view?exhibitionId={b1a2d614-cf7b-42f3-8789-8f3074b9fb2c}&oid=53439

The crocuses died, three at a time, falling with cracking brown and bursts of pastel,

Swallowed up by the hues and hems and haws of the river rolling down the banks

And up the cartwheels, digging worn, rounded toes into the waves,

Gathering the old August, submerging the color, tainting the browns with yellow and silk

And down again, once more, the dreadful plunge.

Women walked along the banks of the Uji river, fans trailing in hand;

The wind shifted their skirts without the feet or certain movement, crocuses dying

Hours ahead and in the distances of silken gold and pink ribbons, shaped in roses,

Trailing behind.

They walked austerely, chins moon-like, raised, crescent and cast away from the sun

Into the darker parts of the water; they walked as if they tread on that darkening surface

Falling away from their feet and bringing death along in cauterized swirls and strider-darts

From the browning crocuses between their toes.

The fans dropped down abruptly, cutting the wind into fragments— they behaved as weapons

As they fell and slowed, curled under themselves in breaths of relief and icy exhales into the Staling fall air, and sank away over the froth of the bridge pillars and waterwheels,

Submerged and sinking into the approaching sunset.

The women watched them go from the bridge, hands to palms and fingers to the brittle edges of

Dragonfly fans, the green newly minted and fogging up the bone-backed translucent cloths

As they beckoned the breeze and plummeted into the rolling orange,

Sank, turned, and continued on toward the churning grain mills and the descending horizon.

Pinks danced on outstretched toes and unused fingernails, ribbons kissed and twisted

Into the golden wisps of atmosphere tugging at the women’s clothes.

The fans netted the wind, caught exhales of excitement as dark blue trouts breaching the water.

All colors muttered and gleamed as they swam down the Uji banks, seeping into the waves,

Scenes of foothill cherry trees and purple courts and cattails rolled into inky patches on the froth.

Every color brushed onto folded, thin canvas, every glance of the day but of this—

The red sun and clouded skies, the darkening water.

They gathered up the old August in scenes of happiness and tossed them down

Into the last hot breaths of the summer sky.

The Sky

By: Daania Tahir
Laruel School, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Dear Judy,

I hope the sky is blue back home. A lustrous, vivid blue that infuses your heart with hopes of new beginnings. The sky is what keeps me sane these days. I think of it how it’s a blanket draped over the world, holding us under it’s beauty. It reminds me that there are gentle things in the world, fragile things that we humans cannot impair with our corrupted minds. It’s with you, suffused in our house, and with me, following me through the labyrinth of trenches. I keep to myself these days, terrified to open my heart to a friend, only to have theirs shot clean through the middle, or bombed into grim ashes. We are all intertwined, each pair of eyes in the trench shares the same hollow look of fear, fatigue, pity, and desperation that is irreparable. The pounding beat of bombs echoes in my ears and fades into a high pitched buzzing. I watch as my brothers eyes go black for the hunger of bloodshed, and it’s as though death has already caught us with its viscid fingers. The rats scurry throughout our trenches, nibbling our food and resources as though they are condemning us for our actions. All I can this is: we are no better than them.  It is the human capacity of mercy, of undergoing sorrow and remorse that separates us from barbaric animals. We mourn and love and feel sentiments so deep in our souls which is what makes us so tragically beautiful. But I have been proven wrong, this race has proven itself wrong. We are brutal, deadly, moronic animals whose brains are dense with our own desires. We are taking lives, minds, hearts, souls, and people as though it is a daily step in our routine. When I see the silhouette of a man, I raise my hand and shoot without blinking, then scurry away like a rat leaving it’s meal half-finished. It is how we greet one another, a gunshot. It is how we gather together, a bomb. We tuck each other into our graves to say goodnight. All I am now is a remnant of war. After the battlefield has been worn out I will be the ghost of misery, a simple recollection of the human race stripped to it’s worst qualities. A reminder of the ruthless and infernal doings that one man can do to another. None of this can take away my glorious sky. The shrill of bullets, screams of comrades, splatters of blood, nights of constant terror are all hidden under an ominous and breathtaking curtain of blue. I hope that when the day comes for my life to be taken, for death to finally pull me under, that I am lying on my back and looking up at that sky, letting it inhale me into its wonder and innocence.