We were individuals
We started with purpose
Took strength in our unity and allowed it to transform us
A common voice rising from
The ashes of 1962 Germany/1976 Soweto/2009 Iran
me now us and you now them
They with their gray uniforms/white skin/black robes
We are individuals. With purpose. Who are they?
Questions shot off forked tongues dipped in poison and judgment
They with their guns/laws/…silence
Disfigured by instructions of which we hear only phrases
Your language we don’t understand your gunshots we don’t understand
and they can’t raise their voices loud enough to explain
Chants holding ears/smoke cooks eyes stings nose/heat of ten bodies merging into self
Fear strips a being down to its skull
Skulls are marred together
Purpose forgotten as frustration yields hate
You and I becoming the us they already thought we were.
I have forgotten you are human. Help me remember.
Inspired by Daniel Richter’s painting “Duisen” seen in the Phillip’s Collection exhibit “Paint Made Flesh.”
What Rainy Days Mean to Me
In the sky a swollen cloud
hangs low, the bottom a dirtier shade of dinge.
Caught on a hook intended to keep discarded clothing from mussing the floor
I spent so long cleaning
Mother’s in town and I want her to see how good I’ve become
at tidying my life
how efficiently I use the cupboards.
But this persistent cloud paints
periwinkle walls a decidedly unattractive tone
She says “I hope you find a wonderful job so I can brag about you to my friends.”
The cloud now stains
the peach chair procured online.
The lover asks “What will you do if they offer you the position in Seattle?”
Now the carpet is sullied as well.
I always was a bad liar.
The soot of this confounded cloud
at day’s end, my own construction.
Pregnant gray belly moves furniture in its path
and the squeal of the armoire on these tiles is excruciating
When I was younger, with full intentions
of becoming a princess
the plastic crown was easy enough to obtain on my weekly stipend.
And when you look the part, well, it’s easier somehow…
don’t ask me when costumes appropriated reality
the days I like best are the ones marked by [warm sunset vibrant grass wet sex]
when I’m outside under a clear sky and joy is extracted from me like nectar
to flavor morning teas
so sticky bright
and I taste good.
Gold and Flight
To escape a labyrinth of his father’s
own construction Icarus was fitted
with wings of feather and wax
and warned not to fly
too close to the sun.
Nana was Brooklyn-bred
Irish parents percolating
penance stirred in with the potatoes.
A tailored gold dress suit
amplified whispers of womanhood
a wisp of a woman
bronze buttons & Schaffer
beer stained polka dots
Before I knew her.
She stood in the middle of the kitchen
maximizing distance from walls
concealing government operatives.
Dr. Botkins was a good Catholic too
believed in God’s Mercy
Prescribed five milligrams of Valium
and a handful of Hail Marys
Before my mother knew her.
…Daddy’s stories are home
She’s the brick; I grew up here
& it’s a sad dog that don’t
love its own house
So memories are sheets in building this fort.
Icarus’s freshly melted wings hardened into wrinkles
Nana’s wilted skin slack enough to fashion ailerons
from cracked bottles & convictions
Addiction is legacy when it survives in your children.
How can we be stupid enough to fly into the Sun
Knowing what we now know?
The skies are so inviting,
and we are left with only feathers and wax.
© Ravenna Hennane
Ravenna Hennane is an educator, community organizer, and musician–depending on the season. Raised outside of Baltimore, she’s currently trying to figure out how to juggle raising a newborn and writing a master’s thesis in Applied Sociology and will hopefully be graduating from the University of Bordeaux in the spring.