Two Cities of Contrast
We don’t go as far as we used to– tracing the corners of the horizon– in good timing Our fingers weakened from this season’s pruning–our lips dry– hands rough and calloused unable to house our hearts but to build words and disassemble trees leaving behind hewn roots promising crossings and avenues for another day Big girl with ladybug eyes is sad always (sometimes) sensitive to scary sights and our fingers are weak from our weathered dreams constantly pursuing fairy tales left to scatter (flint) driftwood decay in modernity We are free (houseless) homeless (plant a tree) and give it a home (asks a man on the side of the street) The poetic irony makes me sad (To ease those whose feet have not walked on soft carpeted ground) Bare glistening black back (face covered) on city bench (there is no park in this scene) Heads nodding, voices hum (to say we share this story of weary) and it has made us clear (no running water in 100-degrees) Arizona drought brown with a splash of green (to ease the sensitive eye) nature’s garnish in a concrete jungle Two blocks down from poverty lies economy and I walk in pink shoes clutching my journal to remind myself I am free (momentarily) as the scene departs from me holding hands rough and soft (calloused and warm)–two crystal souls recalling memories of construction in the valley of the sun Our fingers are weak (weathered from these weary dreams) as we traverse two cities of contrast all in one night
If I Kept My Life in a Jar
If I kept my life in a jar would it weigh me down in the palm of my hand every morning a new occurrence (home in the sea of 100-degrees) a traveling caravan of uninsured dreams at home (a homeless bearer of bad news) this body no longer a home I can choose (but chosen for me) if a woman screams in a forest (does she actually scream) or do a horde of white men decree her body autonomy If I kept my life in a jar would the glass be sterile and cool to the touch (would my contained life be a comfort to hold) or with one weak hand might it shatter creating whiplash (discarding tires and certainty on the open road) If I kept my life in a jar would it be easier to store those memories of burdens and bruises (hidden behind barren dirt – because cultivation was only worth keeping – the germination he’s been reaping) Mother Earth was not worth the nurture but our bodies were worth the detriment to bring to term (all the terms these old white men have run) If I kept my life in a jar would you believe me when I say this glass contains the life you have stolen from me.
I’ve always been small. Since before I was small, I was inevitably small. As a child, my doctor told me I would reach 5 feet. Spoiler: I never did. I used to find solace in my smallness– stoked it like a fire, toasting with marshmallows and cozy memories of being picked up and cared for and held of being loved– for smallness was my focal point of attention my brother called me little I and I found a consolidation in this form of identification– it spoke of memories–golden–of being lost and found–of being someone incredibly small and valuable. But I did not always remain small (even as I remained small) Little body big soul, she said. My stomach–an archaic myth not formed by antonyms but tenderness and complex multitudes my identity encased in my body (a willing subject). I once prided myself on the size of my wrist and contemplated how many fingers I could wrap delicately over its lines. How many he could wrap I considered a prize until I lost it all unwillingly and she complimented me on my figure. How lucky I was to be so small, she said with an eager smile. Small–the confines of my identity marked by my size, a lowercase I, a soft voice curved toward sunlight, a parched flower–a potent promise cascading onto those who seek but do not understand the seasons these seeds starved for. Hydration at the bottom of a shallow vase. I’ve always been small, but now when I look in the mirror I envision a world where I am anything but that.
Sara Cho Stailey is the owner and creator of Liminal Heart Studio. She dabbles in woodblock printing, oil painting, and watercolor. Her handmade whimsical creations are inspired by nature and animals. Favorite subjects include anthropomorphic animals, rabbits, figures, and surreal landscapes.
Ilyssa Goldsmith graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s in communication. She enjoys writing poetry, which sounds out the space where the muse, myth, and female desire reside. Ilyssa is passionate about exploring the nature of the repressed female psyche within her fiction and poetry. She believes language can be utilized as a tool for discovery, healing, and recovery. Ilyssa keeps a dog-eared copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass close to her bed and is known to recite her favorite lines to anyone who will listen on a daily basis. Goodbye (Hello) is her first poetry collection.