I am writing from 29 to tell you
we live. I remember our dreams,
the long white halls with no end,
and how when we tried to imagine
life after high school, it was blank
and solid as a grave. We thought
that meant there was no future
for us, and practised accepting
our absence from our own lives
– no more best friendships, school
dances, no more yearning for boys
to whom we were already invisible.
Now, we are almost twice your age.
The face we couldn’t envisage is yours
but leaner, with shadows of Mom
in its profile. In two years, we will
step on our first plane, and fall
in love with flight. We will move
like wind across the world: we
conjugate French class verbs in Paris
and Nice; we follow Jesus to Bethlehem,
and Galilee; we have lived in places
you do not yet know exist. I see now
that it will all begin with you
the path away from home marked
with nothing; who could walk it
but the girl who has already made peace
with her own end? 15, looking back,
I understand our quiet death-wait,
the surprise of our persistent, daily waking:
We never could have imagined this.
Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). She holds an MFA in Poetry and a graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University, and an MA in English and Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Alleyne’s fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and poetry have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as Women’s Studies Quarterly, Guernica, The Caribbean Writer, Black Arts Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gathering Ground, and Growing Up Girl, among others. Her work has earned several honors and awards, most recently the Picador Guest Professorship in Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany, a 2014 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship, and a 2010 Small Axe Literary Award. Alleyne is a Cave Canem graduate, and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently the Poet-in-Residence, and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.
Mari Hailu is a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University where she simultaneously received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Winner of the faculty-nominated 2014 Margaret Terry Crooks Award for Outstanding Creative Writing, and the David R. Russel Poetry Prize, Mari is grateful to be able to share her words with her community. She is a Managing Editor of The Wardrobe, a blog series affiliated with Sundress Publications, and in her spare time she enjoys playing music at local venues.
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