By Dalia Levanon
My vision blurs
for a moment
a single moment
As the screen unfocuses
of the tiny squares
so all I see is a field of
a different wildflower
sprouting from the soil of Zoom The logo flashing
as I blink
and the teacher turns to the next slide.
They are trapped
in two-dimensional frames
as the Wifi disconnects
Each yawn stuck forever
a hand muffling the sound
Each stolen text message
eyes darting below the screen
Each moment of peace
as a camera is turned off
That they are sure no one would notice
Yet I did
I won’t tell
That you were letting the exhaustion roll off of you like a tide
letting your eyes flicker shut
Before my screen unfreezes and the yawn is over
the phone is put away
And your face can be seen again.
The Awaited Breath
It has already been long enough
She couldn't remember the last time ...
with sniffled senses a step was taken out
the padded front door
Timid attire latched layers of protective garments over any which openings
Time would tell when the distances could close
....for now, the clarity of the open air
spread a calmness in her unsettled heart
Trust In Us
three little branches hung onto me
like a free fiddle I sang onto the sea.
My last hug was ages ago and
it seems like just yesterday since ‘merica stirred.
she smelt the safety of the fog
One of her fellow creatures of the dark.
Our patience gave out,
mind the quiet — the air on our tongue
Sparked with resistance
Hard steel toed boots stomped against the pavement
Lines and lines of armed forces encroached our peace
The tears had barely dried before it
Bullets of rubber, bombs of tears, silent lips
against cries for justice
Echoed the masses
Bubbly Rust And Mist
Like the crowns of rough dark ocean waters,
I can appear to leap into air
Dance in bubbles and flowing skirts of misty white,
As I gasp, swallow only the dark threads tangling inside,
Hushing me, screaming with me.
Or is it I alone who is ripping my throat?
Or is it not I at all, as a shell cannot speak?
When bloody sunrise reeks more of dry monochrome
Than a cackling silhouette of the night
Jagged edges of its liquid suppleness
Mock each beat of rusting life.
Shattered room inside a cage of ivory bars
A shadow bangs on the door, frantic, rhythmic.
Do we knock because we hesitate
To wonder if we are ready, if we truly want,
To step inside?
Do we knock because we are too eager
To know that we are ready, of what we truly want?
in the spring we watch the rain. we stay up late talking about nothing and i spend my days thinking about everything. i spend hours memorizing your faceー the way you scrunch your nose when you think, or notice a freckle i didn’t see before, a childhood scar, a birthmark. you take pictures of me everywhere. in the bath, on the couch, eating breakfast. i make a white paper flower for you and you carry it in your wallet. at night i dream of white marble and pink satin.
in the summer, we walk in the park. the sun floats on your skin like an airy kiss, filtered through layers of round leaves. your camera lies forgotten in your desk and you spend more time working on your laptop than you ever did before. you don’t trust me with your facial expressions anymore. i buy a red silk dress, hoping the sight of my shoulders in the thin straps will bring it back. at night i dream of yellow wilting flowers with big, wide petals.
in the fall, you leave. we don’t talk much in the last few weeks. your expressions come backー hewn from the dark ungraceful stone of annoyance and indifference. i go to the park and write poems about orange leaves and the birds leaving for winter. the ink is warped from the thick drops that i pretend are rain. one day i come back to an empty house and a crumpled paper flower in the trash can. at night i dream of stifling grey clouds forcing themselves down my throat.
in the winter, i cry. cradled by a thick blanket of snow. every tear slowly washes my mind, wiping away the slopes of your neck and the shape of your fingernails. your shampoo bottles sit on the floor of my bathtub and every morning i drink your tea that hasn’t run out yet. your favorite places become sacred temples. i clean out my closet. on the floor is a crumpled red silk dress. at night i don’t dream of anything.
The pattering of rain outside the windows drove everyone inside for the day.
Well, mostly everyone.
I don't know what compelled me to do it, or what 'it' even was.
But here I am now, dousing myself with the rain and fog that stretched across the streets. The beads of water slipped down from my neck, and gathered in the small cup I formed with my hands out of boredom.
It's nice out here, in the rain, by myself. I get to think a bit about everything, I guess.
I haven't seen any flowers for a long time. It's kind of funny how I always say that I hate flowers because they're so useless, and here I was giving them out. They always seem to be happy receiving flowers for some reason. I never knew why, but I feel like it makes me happy to see them like that.
I should get some more flowers soon ...
I never really understood why they keep asking "what do you want?" I never wanted anything for a long time. I had what I needed after all. A warm place to live, good food to eat, and not being sick all the time.
A cold shiver runs through me as the rain started to pour, drowning what little sound there was in the first place.
But maybe ... just maybe,
That's being selfish.
And I can't afford to be like that now. There's so much worse things going on now.
I'm such a lucky person.
But why ... do I feel so empty?
Ah, I accidentally let go of my hands and let the water run through. Oh well, I can just cup my hands again and gather it as I wait some more.
... wait? What am I waiting for?
For the rain to pass?
For the next job to do?
For when death finally releases me from this?
I ... think I lied again.
I do want something,
but I don't know how to say it.
I wiped away the water that was getting stuck to my eyes.
It's so irritating when that happens.
I already don't see well as it is.
But it kept getting in no matter how hard I rubbed it away.
I heard a bird chirping in the distance,
and looked up to see the caller.
Ah the rain had already stopped a long time ago.
And yet the water wouldn't get out of my eyes.
I heard it in the pouring rain and screeching tires.
The world cried when you left.
I tasted it in burnt omelets and takeout pizzas for breakfast.
My mom froze when you left.
I touched it in ripped photographs and broken shards of glass.
The tax collectors came when you left.
I saw it in the twitching antennae of the cockroaches on the glue trap.
My dad left when you left.
I smelled it in the olive oil on your flesh and the ashes when they cremated you
You smiled when you left.
“I didn’t agree to this,” Olivia says.
“Um, well, you do have other options. But – come on, look.”
Olivia looks and sees Lily wearing her oops-but-uh-please smile. She also has her hands clasped together just under her chin, which has the effect of squishing the cat, or maybe a kitten, who is now squirming a little behind her curtain of brown hair. It jumps down and pads over to curl up in a bag, thankfully empty, and peers up with wide eyes.
“I have a choice,” Olivia reminds herself, and it’s a little grounding. She lets out an exhale. “I have a choice,” she repeats, and the world feels a little steadier. She looks at the cat again, takes in the way it looks, tries to reasonably calculate how much it would cost to take care of one. She knows there’s a general store a few blocks away that sells cat food at a decently low cost, because for some reason it’s sold next to the candy. Olivia doesn’t want to take in a cat if it will go hungry with her. It’ll feel like a failure, which has never failed to drive her to tears. There are some cardboard boxes that can probably be made to serve as a makeshift playground, and maybe some other things she can scourge up. Could she – no, she reminds herself, could they do it? Olivia crouches down, looks a little harder. Their place doesn’t forbid pets, and their neighbors, who come over every weekend for tea, have no allergies beyond their sneezing reaction to pollen.
“Hey,” Lily says, clasping their hands together and drawing small circles with her thumbs. “I’m ok with it if you decide no.” She looks earnest, a little apologetic.
“No,” Olivia says, and she’s surprised at the amount of conviction that comes with it. “The cat can stay.”
Lily beams, and Olivia offers a tentative one back. The cat has their head raised a little out of the bag, and she wonders if the memory will stay, will remain something hopeful and warm. A little family.
And the rain never seems to stop
The grey, cloudy sky has never felt as serene
Someone is walking down the pier, umbrella in hand
Just a blurred speck of blue and red under this gentle rain
A nameless figure, barely visible through the fog
Rain hits the water in slow, ever-expanding ripples
Cars roaring down the water-drenched roads, the sound of waves
Slapping the shore, over and over again
And for this moment, the world is so quiet, so beautifully present.
Your upper hand beats their lower hands to roll the die
Crooked men lounge on red playing cards
Their cancerous smoke hushes out the children
Big hands rolls six sick sixes on the dice
I hope I’ve got some sisters who out last me
They gonna tell our story
Little men in big suits were on the telly
Static white n’ black threads his white lies so clearly
Problematic white noise hushs our issues
Everything’s still more than just scenes on T.V.
Stills hang on a black screened shutdowned T.V.