Archive Page 3

words: by John Trudell

See the Woman

She has a young face
An old face
She carries herself well
In all ages
She survives all man has done

In some tribes she is free
In some religions
She is under man
In some societies
She’s worth what she consumes

In some nations
She is delicate strength
In some states
She is told she is weak
In some classes
She is property owned

In all instances
She is sister to earth
In all conditions
She is life bringer
In all life she is our necessity

See the woman eyes
Flowers swaying
On scattered hills
Sundancing calling in the bees

See the woman heart
Lavender butterflies
Fronting blue sky
Misty rain falling
On soft wild roses

See the woman beauty
Lightning streaking
Dark summer nights
Forests of pines mating
With new winter snow

See the woman spirit
Daily serving courage
With laughter
Her breath a dream
And a prayer


Song: Bitter

By Me’Shell NdegéOcello



Craig Thompson: Blankets



Ruby Red




words: by Dionne Brand

About “Carla” from “What We All Long For”:


Carla loved these Mondays the way she loved snowstorms.  The way these two things stopped the world.  A city hemmed in by snow was a beautiful thing to her.  Cars buried in the streets, people bewildered as they should be, aimless and directionless as they really are.  Snowstorms stopped the pretense of order and civilization.  The blistering winds whipped words right out of people’s mouths, they made all predictions and plans hopeless.  She would abandon all warning from Tuyen and the weathermen on twenty radio and television stations and launch out into the city in a blizzard.  Identifying the direction of the wind, she would turn and turn in the blizzard and be lost, walk with it, walk against it, driving her feet through the thick gathering wall of it.  Nothing like a snowstorm to calm a city and make things safe and quiet.


Love can make you remember.  And what she had left, what she could be sure about, was an utter love.  Carla felt a stifling lethargy.  Wasn’t she just thinking about love?  “Draw me a picture of you, so I won’t forget your face, mom”  she’d said.  Angie had laughed, kissing her.  But that feature of love, the one that recalled something unadulterated, enjoyable, she no longer remembered it.  The flush of pleasure never came on its own.  Always the invasive clasp of willfulness, as if she loved despite things, not for them. 

**  **  **

They were already a family of quietness.  She was a watchful child, not a child of too much exuberance.  She would come into a room and know to be quiet just by the look from her mother or her father, just by the location of their bodies around the room.  Even when they were in pleasant conversation, the tenor of a word or a pause would alert her to someone about to misunderstand someone else.  For that reason, she was a slender child, a child who made room with her own body so that she would not occupy so much space that she would be unduly noticed.  Or call too much attention to herself.  She cultivated a reediness to intercept their tones, their changes in chord.  The efforts to hone this faculty became physical in her.  There appeared no room for her despite the fact that they all seemed sometimes to be fighting over her.

**  **  **

A surge of memories about her days in this house came over her.  In her last days here Carla had hung about like a question mark.  Her father told her that she had grown tall and angular, though none of his people were tall, none of Angie’s, either, that he knew of, so why was she so tall, so bony?  He also noticed a hitherto allusive danger in her.  Just like her mother.

Carla had been 18 then, and Nadine no longer asked her to go to the market or to clean up.  She did not want to be met with a recumbent defiance.  To be truthful, Carla no longer needed to be asked to clean up.  She did it swiftly, unasked.  She did it, it seemed, as a way of avoiding trouble, avoiding contact.  She took care of herself, always had, perhaps to the point of asceticism.  She cleared away domestic chores with a briskness.  But she took no pleasure in them as she had surely been taught. 

Nadine had shown her how to cook lovingly, how to polish tables and floors as if the people you were doing it for, your family, would enjoy it and therefore that would be your joy too.  She had shown her how to shop for the best fruit, the best food.  Her stepmother had smoothed her soft hands over a seam, showing her how her appearance must be lovingly put together.  

Carla had taken all of this and turned it into competence.  She glided through these lessons like an impatient note taker.  She completed what they asked of her not like a daughter but like a clerk, marking off their needs, completing their emotional desires like an office manager.

All her efficiency was to make the time she had with them shorter and shorter; to reduce conversations to a minimum, to limit anything they might want from her.  The only time they ever got a reaction out of her was when she would jump to her younger brother’s defense.  Though, on that score, she was mostly watchful, a kind of seething watchfulness that even her father was slightly afraid of.

**  **  **

“Carla, stop that noise now.  Come here, lovey, and take the baby.”  Carla came and held her brother.  “Put the pencil down now.  Hold tight, dear, and go inside and put him down on the sofa.  Wait there til mommy comes, mommy has to do something.  There’s mommy’s girl.  There’s my baby.”  

Carla stayed singing to the baby until she was tired.  The baby was screaming.  She left him on the sofa and went back to the balcony to tell her mother, but Angie had disappeared.  Perhaps she was in the bedroom, Carla thought.  Then she noticed the chair was tipped over.  She forgot about the baby.  She’d always wanted to see over the balcony, but Angie wouldn’t let her.  She straightened the chair, climbed up, stood on the seat, and peered over the balcony.


words: by Paulo Coelho

from “Veronika Decides to Die”:

Then, once more, a deep peace flooded through her and Veronika again looked out at the starry sky and at the new moon, her favorite, filling the room she was in with gentle light.  The impression returned of Infinity and Eternity walking hand in hand; you only had to look for one of them– for example, the limitless universe– to feel the presence of the other, Time that never ends, that never passes, that remains in the Present, where all of life’s secrets lie.  As she had been walking from the ward to that room, she had felt such pure hatred that now she had no more rancor left in her heart.  She had finally allowed her negative feelings to surface, feelings that had been repressed for years in her soul.  She had actually felt them, and they were no longer necessary, they could leave.


She sat on in silence, enjoying the present moment, letting love fill up the empty space left behind by hatred.  When she felt the moment had come, she turned to the moon and played a sonata in homage to it, knowing that the moon was listening and would feel proud, and that this would provoke jealousy of the stars.  Then she played music for the stars, the garden, for the mountains that she could not see in the darkness but which she knew were there.



words: by Janet Fitch

from “White Oleander”:

How could I forget.  I was her ghost daughter, sitting at empty tables with crayons and pens while she worked on a poem, a girl malleable as white clay.  Someone to shape, instruct in the ways of being her.  She was always shaping me.  She showed me an orange, a cluster of pine needles, a faceted quartz, and made me describe them to her.  I couldn’t have been more than three or four.  My words, that’s what she wanted.  “What’s this?” she kept asking.  “What’s this?”  But how could I tell her?  She’d taken all the words.

The smell of tuberoses saturated the night air, and the wind clicked through the palms like thoughts through my sleepless mind.  Who am I?  I am a girl you don’t know, mother.  The silent girl in the back row of the classroom, drawing in notebooks.  Remember how they didn’t know if I even spoke English when we came back to the country?  They tested me to find out if I was retarded or deaf.  But you never asked why.  You never thought, maybe I should have left Astrid some words.

I thought of Yvonne in our room, asleep, thumb in mouth, wrapped around her baby like a top.  “I can see her,” you said.  You could never see her, Mother.  Not if you stood in that room all night.  You could only see her plucked eyebrows, her bad teeth, the books that she read with the fainting women on the covers.  You could never recognize the kindness in that girl, the depth of her needs, how desperately she wanted to belong, that’s why she was pregnant again.  You could judge her as you judged everything else, inferior, but you could never see her.  Things weren’t real to you.  They were just raw material for you to reshape to tell a story you liked better.  You could never just listen to a boy playing guitar, you’d have to turn it into a poem, make it all about you.  




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