when missing her, remember

her mouth coming my way one last time, the night before
(the tiger overall she wore)
the sadness in her eyes as her right cheek moved back and fort, the teeth biting on the rage or anger, upsetness, hurt, whatever
(sometimes it was hard to read her)
how she arrived, no hug, on her bike
how she left, no hug, walking
(at least she had her bike to hold beside her, while i was finally free to walk alone)
how she denied ever once doing me wrong
(said ‘go home, make a list’, even after i asked ‘then why did you say you were sorry after that 2nd time?’)
how she systematically denied her actions
(is it possible you didn’t say ‘no’, that you only think you did?)
like some serbs deny genocide
(did i just compare her to them? is that fair?)
how i watched a netflix thing on versace’s killer and was reminded of her
(got scared for my life)
how she’d say ‘i wanted to stab him to death’
(and i knew she could)
how she’d choke me with her hands or blame
(exasperating me until i went numb and scared to exist in her presence, say the wrong thing)
how love became thin in between
(all that connected us still was who said what when and what she meant by it)
how i was her knife she used to cut herself with to stay in victimhood
(and i refused)
how she said ‘but i always want consent’
(and i didn’t remind her of all the times she was drunk and didn’t)
how i still want to protect her
(but i decided to live)
how sad i am it’s over
(but have keynaan’s ‘dreamer’ on repeat)

After a While

After a while, you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.

And futures have a way of falling down in midflight.

After a while, you learn

That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure . . .

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn . . .

With every goodbye, you learn.

Then After “after a while” you change and build your hopes again. And pray that maybe this time it will be different. And you hold on to that hope because in the end that’s all you really have..


After ‘after a while’
You want to hold a hand not to chain a soul but
to enjoy its company,
and you want someone’s lips to kiss,
not because you are lonely but because you are
happy, and you want to give presents
and you want to make promises.

After ‘after a while’
You begin to accept your defeats like an adult,
but like a child, will want someone to listen
and care,
and you want someone who will build roads with
you today so maybe you can pave the way for your
future together.

After ‘after a while’
You want someone’s sunshine and warmth,
but also accept the rain and the cold,
and you want to give flowers picked from your
own garden.

And when your garden is picture perfect,
you want it to be more than a picture
even if it means having to be imperfect
because you want someone in it to stay and to

Then you’ll see that there is
such a thing as love…
and that you were made to live in someone else’s
and you’ll know that there is more to life than

You realize that no matter how tightly you hold,
if you’re meant to let go, you can
And then you will understand that love
gives you reasons to understand
even the most complicated situations
And you will grow older believing that just
because you have convictions
doesn’t mean you’re always right

You will remember lips because of the smiles
that made your day,
the words that touched your soul, not only
because of the sweet kisses

And as you graciously accept defeat and absorb
the meaning of lessons
You feel that you are finally being the person
you never thought you’d be

So, armed with courage, strength and confidence,
you will face the world
head on…
With or without an army behind you
Because you know your worth and that alone is an

With more heartbreaks you will cry
But after every heartache, you will rise

Life is a garden … it takes long to make it
But it’s always worth the wait..


“The art of the short story is closest to poetry. You start in the middle and end before it’s over. You entice the reader with your warmth and keep her with your intelligence. The art of the short story is seduction.”
Nikki Giovanni, poet


i witness pictures of a “relaxing” woman and i think: it is funny how they see us. in the movies under the shower, the actress stands with shaved legs, leaning into the water, opening her mouth with a sensuous sigh. our sleepovers are supposed to come with bras and tight panties, laughing our painted lips over pizza you don’t see us eat. we take walks in the park in good heels, look excellent after running, always have a gentle smile on our pristine faces.
an artist draws a piece about how women alone don’t have to be sad that they’re alone, they should relish in it, which i thank him for giving me permission to do. the result of his work is half-nude ladies draped like linens over their couches, flashes of thigh gaps and open lips, breasts swelling pleasantly, a yawn and and stretch that shows off her hipbones.
the only evidence i have that i’m normal is considered comedy. our reality is comedy. lying in bed under three covers, bra off but sweater on, laptop positioned directly under lack of a chin: that gets a laugh. in the movies, the quirky girl in a cute-ugly but somehow flattering pajama set gets caught at the supermarket and it’s a nice romantic scene where we find out how awkward it is for her to exist without makeup, without her best effort to please sexually. she sees her boss or her cute friend or whatever else makes us laugh and cringe and the next time we put on “real clothes” before we go out shopping.
the real world exists somewhere outside the picture of women. we come home and strip off our bras, but instead of that being a still image of a delicate female stepping away nude, it’s a moment of our peacefulness. the narrative so often stops here, us heading our improbably slim legs to the bedroom. but instead our breasts don’t always hang evenly, instead some of us do not have breasts, instead we swipe a hand over our tired faces and smear our makeup but are too lazy to take it off. our bodies crack and crunch and do not stretch like a cat but instead in weird directions, we rush out our breath and slouch and barely keep our eyes open. we lie with our thighs touching and our stomachs hanging because it’s comfortable. we sling ourselves undainty over whatever will support our weight. our showers consist equally of staring into the void as of unflattering angles while we wash; our bodies never come pre-shaved and for some reason our underarm hair is really persistent or our leg hair is dark and shows even after shaving or maybe both. our sleepovers mostly feature netflix and wine, getting food on our faces, eating until our stomachs make round pleased hills, talking trash and swearing up storms more than we paint our nails. we don’t go to the store in cute-ugly clothes, we go because we forgot to buy tampons or we dropped all our rice on the ground or because we’re human and we need supplies to survive.
there is a very strange body-positive rule where somehow, we always end up under the slogan “beautiful.” our loneliness, our adulthood, our moments where were are not even being judged – i should remind you that those are beautiful too. but the truth is that you don’t need to be beautiful. and these moments in particular, that belong to you: they’re yours, they don’t need to be told that they exist in some plane of desirability. who cares if they’re ugly, if they’re truly self-serving and unflattering and indelicate. when you are home, you are finally human, returned to skin that itches in awkward places and ugly habits and it’s okay. they won’t show you a version of that without laughing about it, but we are real, we don’t keep ourselves perfect in even our peaceful moments. it’s okay. i know you might be worried what happens if you get a partner or roommate and they learn you live this way, that you’re messy and forget to brush your teeth sometimes and get food all over the place when you eat and i’m telling you: you’re not unusual. you’re just human, and these moments aren’t somehow shameful. they’re not untouchable and unspeakable because they’re not pretty. because instead they’re human.
we aren’t here to be watched, and we don’t need your approval. we weren’t created to always please. sometimes we get to take a break from beautiful.

A journalist friend tells me about being in Greece, reporting on the arrival of refugees in Lesvos, rising from the sea both resurrected and, like Lazarus, irrevocably transformed by death. On the backs of the trucks circling the town is the word “metaphoros.” A Greek acquaintance explains that this means transport, and she is struck by this, as I am too when she tells me about it. How going back to the roots of language can reveal something essential about a word’s purpose. How stories might be transformed and disguised to pass through the world more easily, but still smuggle with them the same truth. And how the perfect metaphor for the acts of reading and writing, and the witness you must bear to perform each, is translation, specifically its Latin root: to cross, to carry over. For they all require an active form of engagement that is at once, paradoxically, an active form of surrender. You must bear the words, no matter how heavy or foreign or grotesque or strange, you must bear them with their full weight and allow them to carry you where they will, carry you so far into yourself you finally emerge into an understanding beyond. Beyond the self, beyond language. A place where you might, for endless moments, imagine that you have become someone else entirely, and thus emerge transformed, bearing back with you into the world the knowledge that such a place exists, that such metamorphosis is possible. I am not entirely sure how one does this. There are no maps to these territories that lie beyond the borders of that which is explicitly voiced. But I do know that the only way to evaluate what must be carried over and how, what can be sacrificed or modified and what at all costs must not be lost, is to journey across that border

Translation is a symbiotic act. Between writer and translator, of course, but also between languages. In becoming its vessel, you carry over something of yourself but also something of the original language, because that is the way that language works. It is a communal heritage, but is also something entirely individual, entirely your own. And that is what gives it its transformative possibility: this inevitable commingling of self and other, of self and culture, of personal history and collective history. Language gives the individual the power and strength of the collective. And writing, speaking, telling stories—wielding language in narrative form—has the ability to transform the collective through the individual experience. To cross over from that which is felt, experienced, to that which is voiced—for the purpose of witness and being witnessed—is each and every time the declaration of a singular understanding of what it means to be alive in the world. This opens up new spaces, new imagined possibilities, and those, through language, become part of the collective heritage.

War in Translation: Giving Voice to
the Women of Syria

“Marx believed that revolution would change social relations. Instead we prefer a status quo that widens the opportunity for entry into it, but cannot be challenges except at the edges. The challenge of a developing self is to be prepared to change. We can tinker with our own edges and make ourselves more inclusive, more open, and all that is good. But we need more than that. The purpose of therapy as Freud knew, is to find a safe place for a revolution. That’s a contradiction in terms, but it is accurate. I never used to understand therapy. I thought everything could be done by effort and an act of will and on your own. Very stupid.”
-Jeanette Winterson

“Revolutions do not happen outside of you, they happen in the vein, they change you and you change yourself, you wake up in the morning changing. You say this is the human being I want to be. You are making yourself for the future, and you do not even know the extent of it when you begin but you have a hint, a taste in your throat of the warm elixir of the possible.”

– Dionne Brand

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution!”

-Emma Goldman