Poetry: Ela Thompson’s “The Labyrinth”

Heavy Feather Review

My grandmother’s house was painted a dark, graying eggshell blue
and was very near the southern border of the Catskill Mountains.
After the death of my grandfather                   she sold the house, the barn, the many
acres of field and forest.                   No one was surprised.
Death                                 contaminates the heavy rivers of our bodies
and we must                             move on.
Bound as we are,                       even as a hidden culture,
her family has spread          out from that place—
a daughter in California,
a son in the Carolinas,
a son in Massachusetts,
a daughter in Wyoming
a daughter who never left
a daughter who never settled down—
like seeds on the wind,
only growing shallow roots                                   in acidic soils.
My mother, head of black curls,
once told me that we are like the rhododendron,
which blooms large, bright, and heavy in the woods,
belonging to the far place…

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Women-Introducing Rishika Sangeeta

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[Poem by Rishika Sangeeta]

women are told
lies before they even understand the concept of truth
taught to be softer
sweeter
smile more
laugh less
lower your eyes you insolent witch
taught to unravel like a carpet beneath a man’s feet

there is a place for a young girls dreams
your mother tells you at 12
and it hangs itself inside closets
tucks itself silent and simmering in her snarling curls
perfumes the house with the aroma of spices and bitter compromise
you will understand when you are older she says
and her eyes shine at you like a sickle moon in an empty sky
too tired to put up a fight

women are taught
to belong
to surrender
like sheep led to slaughterhouses innocent of your deceit

women are taught
to quicken their pace as day passes into the jaws of black night
the dark hides terrors little one
and animal lust
and the only voice she hears is her mother’s
and it whispers
run!

women are taught
their bodies are commodities to be bought and sold to the highest bidder
her mother is careful to call it dowry
a bride price
as if the safe trappings of tradition and culture
somehow censors the truth
that she never belonged to herself
she never would

in this world
a woman willing to claim herself
is deadly
dangerous
an outlier

but listen to me
you belong first to the call in your veins
to the pulse in your throat
to this shell that carries you
battered and bruised through
the quagmire of living
and you are powerful
merely for existing
for enduring
for loving

never forget that

[Rishika Sangeeta is a therapist in training and a writer of romantic prose and poetry. She spends hours in communion with the dark and her heart in a constant quest to unearth some meaning from the mayhem of living.]

Attractive Miles by Nadia Garofalo

Landslide
[Poem by Nadia Garofalo Photo by Women Beyond Boundaries]
I remember
when the desert called me
oasis of lost boys and love hotels
sometimes still
dry heat
warms cold blood
tempts me
can it quell uncertainty
with its attractive miles
heavy silence
lets let it go
we’ll soon see
if she calls now to you
or still, sings for me.

Bruised Knees-Introducing Rachel Finch

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[Poem by Rachel Finch]
My knees have known Bruises.
A spectrum of colour staining my skin as a reminder.
Pigments of who I am, altered at their hands.
Fists clenched to strike, clench, imprint.
Each stain a bolt, a language seeping into my essence; teaching.
My ribs have known bruises.
Painted, I am every female ancestor face first in the dirt.
My throat has known bruises.
I never felt so transparent as I did wearing lesions beneath a high collar.
Fading, my shell returns, burying the real wounds beneath it.
But I am wiser.
Healed I am every female ancestor face towards the Sun.

Rachel is a writer that speaks from her soul, expressing her trauma and strength through her work. She lives with Mental Illness, refusing to let it define her and is mother to four courageous children. In her free time she volunteers to support people through their own experiences of abuse, mental illness and recovery at Bruised But Not Broken.

Crystal Residue by Nadia Garofalo

nadia
[Poem and photo by our own Nadia Garofalo]
I open heavy
to an empty house
but at least it’s mine
The warmth isn’t gone
it’s spread out over continents
washes and brings in
its tide apparitions
nostalgia so vivid and thick
like ocean air
sharp corners
wear smooth
Pools evaporate to
crystal residue