when i close my eyes the wrinkles shift, a paper fan opening
when i was young i thought of aging as something muted
a teapot covered in a cozy
a sugarcube held between front teeth
that is, when i thought of age at all
the pithy rind of a lemon
weak tea in a porcelain cup
ah bublitchka, spesieba
today reaching up for the sugar, i knocked a package of sorrows from the shelf
old house slippers covered in crystalline granules
new diamond crusted shoes
add a certain crunch to my stiff shuffles, sometimes toes still tapdance
everymorning i lift two cans of beets over my head twelve times
every morning i touch my toes
every morning i stroke the puffy cheek of grace
and sit in the sun
when i was a little older i hoped aging was the slow growth of a tree
gnarled bones agree
there is a woman at the market who sells bits of bark and honey, meshuggeneh,
everytime the jars are smaller
there are cold coins and silver coins and even paper
aging is waiting to fall and forgetting how to heal
blood forgetting to clot pooling under skin forgetting to flesh like thread spooling through my palm. she muted the television so we watched the buildings falling only in the rise and fall of breath
i want to telephone mara and verle and luisa for tea
between us are many miles and mountains and plains
we don’t speak of siberia or the feeling of fleeing but that doesn’t mean our bodies cannot feel the jostle of a train’s slow acceleration
now tired our nostrils whistle departure
the truth is you cannot survive if you carry everything you own on your back
the truth is you decide to carry only what helps you survive or you fall down
and you do not heal
the children laugh when i pick up a can of beets and wink and say
“the weight of your spirit is what you can hold in your hands”
most of them think i am losing my mind “ah bubbe maiseh, doesn’t remember the hair on her head or the keys in the door”
mechayeh! i do remember
i simply don’t care anymore,
like stealing a pocketful of caramels from the cornerstore.
the way i see it, there is only one choice when the building begins to crumble. pearls shawl lipstick hat walk cackling silently through the store, plunge all your fingers into soft cheeses and peaches till the juices run out onto the floor the manager may notice shouting a flyswatter and fists in the air but your pockets already stuffed with caramels and beloved ones soft shuffling diamond shoes i am out the door.
bublitchka. by naomi polina
- "real poem (personal statement)," Rachel Zucker (via commovente)
jay electronica. act i: the pledge (abridge)
BY NAOMI SHIHAB NYE
“A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,”
my father would say. And he’d prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.
In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.
Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to see the Arab.
I said we didn’t have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, “When we die, we give it back?”
He said that’s what a true Arab would say.
Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. What flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.
I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Blood” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Talking About My Girlfriend with Strangers, 2013
Retro Conceptual Collages by Olivia Jeffries
Illustrations, 2013 | by Jem Magbanua
Exercises for Female Emancipation, 2011. Poster, text and graphics, 1st Gran Bienal Tropical, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
‘Yuansu II’ (Sculptures made by bees) by Ren Ri
R. T. Smith, Sourwood, from “Messenger”, 2001.