“Be Free” by Barbara Eikner Thompson; “Phoenix of Fire” by Márcia Maria Tannure; “If I Am” by Rebecca Woolston; and “Legacy” by Elizabeth Best
“Be Free” by Barbara Eikner Thompson
We are all creators …
so if you dance, dance.
If you sing, sing.
If you build, build.
If you cook, cook.
If you carve, carve.
If you weave, weave.
If you write, write.
If you prophesy, prophesy.
You are the child of the creative force of the universe,
stay in the light and
I am a lover of poetry and books.. I am a mother, grandmother, wife and friend. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have published two books of poetry. I believe in the Ancestors and know that they are always with us , if we give them time and space. – Barbara Eikner Thompson
“Phoenix of Fire” by Márcia Maria Tannure
I am an artist from Rio de Janeiro. This is how I live my joy and artistic purpose. – Márcia Maria Tannure
“If I Am” by Rebecca Woolston
This is how I feel:
Put your hands together, with fingers interlaced. Turn the palms up.
Imagine the child gesture of capturing something small. Some magical creature that you also
wanted to share with the people in your life.
This is how you deliver memory.
Tender child you. Fragile and dreamy.
This moment matters.
I would like to reach for the charred bone of your right hand. To see where the skin remains
pink, fringed in jagged ash. I can see these things now that I remember your voice.
I can see these things
now that I remember your eyelashes and the roots of your hair. The smooth skin of the scar
along your bicep. What memories sit tucked beneath the small mound of flesh.
I can say these things now
that I carry you
inside the bends of my bones.
If I pull all the strings of my tendons, I break all the rules of my girl body that I only called a
woman body after I turned 25.
That’s not right.
Maybe I mean break every rule placed on my girl-woman-body.
That’s not right.
Maybe I want to break every rule.
Maybe I want to break body.
Push the muscles past what they can lift. Tear down the fibers. They are sore, but they knit
themselves together again. They rebuild themselves.
A better version of who they used to be.
What if I tore down the fibers of myself so that I could knit a better version of myself? What
would you keep? What would you have to keep, even if you didn’t want to?
Grandma’s DNA shifted when that man—a family friend—touched her. She was four, she said
to my mother.
“Four years old. Can you believe it?”
No, I say. I can’t.
But I do.
Sexual assault is often performed by someone the woman (child) knew.
Imagine the egg of my mother, huddled with all the others inside Grandma.
His touch is imprinted in the river-curves of Grandma’s chromosomes.
In the river curves of my mother’s chromosomes. In the river-curves of my chromosomes.
Here’s a filthy sentence:
His touch(es) live inside my body.
Let me try again.
I would like to imagine a world in which people believe women.
The first time.
Or, any of the times.
I’m just saying that I miss you.
I am missing you.
If I am missing you, I am allowed to grieve.
If I’m afraid of your body, it’s because I’m afraid of a world without it.
If I’m afraid of a world without it, I’m also afraid of a world with it.
I’m just afraid.
I get this from my Grandmother.
Remember when I said I didn’t think I was afraid?
I looked terrified.
I want to write the menses, but it’s just not flowing.
I was thinking about my niece earlier when I stared at the wall. But I’m not sure which one it
was. Was it A or K?
It was A’s face at her ballet recital.
It was K’s body as she emerged from her mother.
It was feeling the sentence, “I will do anything for them,” pressing out of my rib cage.
I am wishing I had this sentence all those times people told me I would change my mind, or to
“just wait, it’s different when it’s your own.”
I want to say, I (probably) won’t change my mind,
And I already know.
And Get the fuck out of here with that shit.
I want to say
Why is it so hard to believe women?
Does it change the grammar of culture if I said, “I’m queering” instead of, “I’m queer”?
Does the progressive tense make it more active for people?
To hold queerness in the past, present, future tenses of myself.
To say it is ongoing.
I want to say to some people:
If I’m queer_______.
The bleeding stopped which means the cramping stopped which means the bleeding will start
which means the cramping will start.
If the cramping starts, the blood will come.
Or before that:
If the blood comes, the egg will never be in my body again.
Maybe she doesn’t want to use the egg.
The blood comes.
What I’m saying is
I don’t know.
I miss you.
I am missing all the you’s.
This moment matters.
I hold an MFA from Mills College, am never sure what category my writing is accepted in, consider writing a workout, and I like to imagine what my dogs are thinking and to wander along shorelines and rivers. – Rebecca Woolston
“Legacy” by Elizabeth Best
In my corner of the world where children bear children,
and fathers abdicate, grandmothers reign,
supported by peddling, planting and handcrafting
and sustained by the cook-up, the cuss-out,
the balm of redemption songs
and a broad faith girding their loins.
Fighting our war on want,
Mama bombarded the courts of Heaven
with peace-seeking prayers fired
from her depression in the grass-filled bed.
Before she blew out the lamp light
and swept fatigue into the Everlasting Arms,
I always slipped into sleep with her hallowed hopes
sprouting soul in the soil of my dreams.
Every night witnessed Mama’s attempts
to exorcise the pain of her orphaned youth
cultured in bitterness on sugar plantations –
those fertile loins of the land,
ploughed to spawn coppers for a miserly Crown.
Every dawn found her bending pride
into each crisp fold of her starched belly-band
and each thoughtful twist of her calico head wrap,
preparing body, mind and spirit for the field.
Nurturing vengeance, quiet and constructive,
against those supping in estate parlors –
seats of plenty perched like ripened nipples
atop my island’s choicest mounds –
this squat colossus carved a viable present
out of a violated past
by cutting, piling, heading, and loading cane
with the aim of transporting me beyond her station.
She cleared sure-footed tracks to envisioned futures
in the wake of each wall of cane that fell to her bill.
Brute tough she raised me for purpose:
Tamarind whips corrected sins hinted and committed.
Sharp glances trimmed experience with a thousand “don’ts.”
No hugs or kisses softened my falls,
but care covered my bruises with harsh verbal salves:
“When you don’t look where you’re going,
you can expect to tumble upside down.”
From education seeping through cracks in her chastisement,
I learned that no matter how hard the fall, I must always rise,
scatter the dust, hug my battered selves,
water effort with tears and dance despite the pain.
With emotions and fortunes see-sawing in time,
we lived in love shown more often than spoken
until the morning she lost herself in mid-sentence
and I, the child, gave up play to became mother
to the woman in her second childhood.
Mama’s Spirit still tugs on reins of regret and loss
as she takes me through corridors of dreams
back to when I had to throw out embarrassment
with her bathwater
and wash pain from bibs that cradled her chin as I fed her.
She takes me back to times when my heart winced
With each dab of liniment I applied
to dime-sized sores on her hips.
Dad found it easier to man-up with the finances
because hands-on caring was “women’s business.”
Back then, inexperience slipped me no clue
that Mama’s turning away to face the partition
was the final step in a farewell dance.
No one primed me for her slipping beyond my ken
to wait behind a veil of closed lids
in her silent, Holy of Holies
for the homing summons of a bugle blast
pitched too high for me to hear.
I have knotted memories of Mama
in the corners of moments
and held them close to my heart
just the way she used to roll bills and coins
in the corners of handkerchiefs
and deposit them in her bosom.
I utter her name from a well of tears
and toast her memory on every field of conquest.
Like Mama, I seek seeds of inspiration
in the ever expanding quagmire of oppression.
Like her, I feed on kernels of tough ancestral truths,
despite pressure to discard them for convenient alternatives.
Daily energized, I fly into the fray of living
with grit and grace overlaying my wings,
reducing drag, insulating spirit, sustaining flight.
I am a Barbadian woman of African descent. I teach students and mentor teachers in Kentucky. Through meditation, prayer, poetry, songs and art, I aim to respond rather than merely react to pervasive negativity, ignorance and injustice in high and low places and live life on my own terms. – Elizabeth Best