the sky hangs, fragrant
it has heaviness to say.
it takes a late and slow gathering storm
for me to cloak myself
before the orange.

there’s something heady, effusive
singing!
the jasmine flower
bowing over the fence
is here, almost
visiting me with its scent

and i go there
maybe i haven’t been here before
but i know it’s borderless
pure
before everything happened
in a way that maybe could have been mine

in these passages
i am a migrant
who is neither here nor there
being is a place i leave often
where do i go?

you asked me once
about our origin story
i was never really able to tell it that way
here, now
but i know you come from a place i remember
you feel like you were once in my blood,
blooming
maybe something less true, perhaps
but still ringing, ringing, sounding softly
like a petal
crushed on my skin
I could give no answer
i just looked at the stain
the residue you left
and felt at home
is it because our ruins are so alike?

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zora said there are years that have answers 

but I can only find them in fugitive windows of time 

night constellations stringing my insomnias

into a garland 

of anxieties that begged articulation

pleaded with me to chase the frames

to find the ways of seeing 

(did we ever learn to do that?)

until one moment one night perhaps an incipient morning even as if those demarcations absolve us of something 

something breaks quietly imperceptibly and gently spills 

an offering at my feet 

a surfeit of words

that write me 

Dear Maureen

Dear Maureen,

It is not easy writing this letter. It began as a poem, a long poem. I tried to turn it into an essay but the result was wooden, cold. I have not yet unlearned the esoteric bullshit and pseudo-intellectualizing that school brainwashed into my writing.

How to begin again. How to approximate the intimacy and immediacy I want. What form? A letter, of course.

—Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers”

Can we ever restore lost resonance? I stayed up all night once wondering about this. When resonance is lost, when things fail to sound, what can we do? The next morning, a broken friendship tried gently to mend itself.

But still, part of me is terrified that it cannot be restored. Part of me is unsure if all I ever do is gather up broken, empty referents—referring to nothing, making silence, failing to resonate.

But the rest of me wants to live up to my namesake and have faith. I want to believe in an imminent reconciliation, a community coming towards me, arms wide open, a vast garden walking around me and drawing green. If only because believing this is necessary—if only because so much hinges on that hope—the world I want to build and inhabit. And to create it, I must have hope. Even provisional hope is something.

Arundhati Roy said “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

I can hear her breathing, but for a while now it has been quieter. I have not heard from you in a while.

But I am to blame for the silence, the ensuing rupture in sound, where all the lines went dead.

Listen. Let me explain.

At that time in my life, that foggy, cold, distant place that no longer feels like me, many different traumas—traumas with different roots, magnitudes, trajectories—collided in me. They coalesced in the most destabilizing way. I was destabilized to the point of paralysis. I felt completely unable to respond, to assimilate everything. I was experiencing it all collapse into itself into something unmovable. I felt all my power drain from me, leaving me completely unresponsive.

And in turn, my world and everything in it appeared unresponsive to me. Everything felt barren, unable to nourish or grow. Everything dimmed.

But I acknowledge that just as our personal traumas have deep, far-reaching genealogies, so too do they spread forward, growing into our present even more powerfully. And I am so sorry for the reverberations that carried through to you, to me and you, to break the harmony in our little affective space. I am sorry for all of the gaps, lacks, and absences I somehow became. How they silenced these nurturing, fruitful songs.

Listen: I want you to know that I hold myself accountable for this. I want you to know that I have turned these words over in my mind a thousand times but they never sound smoother—the jagged noise always springs forth into my hearing. But did we ever learn to make truth rounded, harmonious?

Listen: I blame myself for anything that has lost its resonance, for anything that now fails to sound. For all the stories that were never shared, any personal truths that in all the following moments could not commune.

Listen: I am so much better now. I am healthy and happy. I have found all of the resources and energies and communities to sustain me for when I am not. And so many of those energies and resources I owe to you.

Listen: I would not sound the same if not for you. My words would be broken, unable to be heard. A string of sounds could not flow from me in this way. You taught me all the songs I know. You showed me how to belong, to be intentional, to create, to navigate, to negotiate. You awakened dream worlds in me that felt sleepy and fuzzy for so long.

Listen: Maureen, I still don’t know if we can ever bring back that lost resonance. If we can rebuild our spaces to harmonize again. If we can find those emotional acoustics all over again and speak more truly through them. If we can learn to hear ourselves or others better. But, Maureen, I hope we can, and I have to believe it.

I haven’t heard from you for a while. I hope I do soon.

Love,

Eman

i can no longer slip in from one dimension to anotherand acclimate

struggle isn’t a hobby or a pastime 

every hour invested is an hour disinvested, withdrawn – from elsewhere

-my evie 

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our
existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate
our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into
language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be
thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are
cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our
daily lives

— Audre Lorde, Poetry is Not a Luxury

متاحف الثورة

All this time I thought I was waiting, I was creating an archive. I was remembering.

The impulse to remember, to collect, to archive, to curate—it felt like it arose from something deadening, a vestige. Sometimes all I see are all these vestiges, locked away in museums. The freedom, the overflowing gardens, the revolutions—they all feel like vestiges now.

But what of museums? Can they be retrieved and reclaimed? Their histories are tainted. In museums we try to understand things, so we nail them to thin paper, cover them in glass, force them to stand still long enough to see, the epistemic bleeding into the metaphysical, the impulse to conquer knowledge conquers all. But is everything lost? Can we curate something alive, give it presence, space, and flight?

More importantly, can we restore? Can we commit to encountering, being encountered by goodness, beauty, community, hope? Can we find it in between the vestiges, vestiges, all these vestiges?

But I was not only waiting. I was creating space and time for all this gathering, recollecting, collecting again. After all, there is an agency to letting things slip, an agency to remembering, re-remembering, forcing stories into collective vision. Neutrality was always a myth.