• Tashyana Handy

I mention to my mother that I do not know what will become of the women overseas

the women we house up in our own desires,

and ship off the island, off all its Imaginations.

How they labour to save all our temporaries,

and what is left of their permanence?

How they crack, and stretch,

and whip smiles for first passports and photographs,

bones naively extending from side to side,

till they know better.

How I will only see them as vagued women,

studded with their bright red and brown bags at the airport;

hanging off shoulders, resting on second-hand sneakers,

vanishing into the skies, like goddesses of some kind.

I remember the time they found a woman

wrapped up in foil in the back of a crate, she says.

her body had been decomposing for days,

Heavy with stench but still a glimmer.

No one knew till they lifted it out of the metal box,

big enough to fit death and other necessities.

She had been working in the Jordan, and by working, I mean,

I know what you mean, I say. But in truth,

I don’t,

I have nothing that can compound a laborer’s world

to a word on my tongue.

So instead, I imagine a woman floating through the river,

foamy water muzzling her grammar of possibility,

limbs tumbling through

the remains of a country’s waste,

waiting to meet the Dead

See, that’s the thing, I say

Isn’t it strange?

In this town of somebody’s some body,

I do not know of any one body who speaks of them?

Your grandmother was one of them, she says.

Embarrassed by not knowing the history of my own

I try to picture her and there is nothing there.

What now must I do with my hands?

They stumble over this forgetting,

Or this Intentional act of not remembering,

the things the bodies that have birthed mine have done, would do,

and all the things they used to be

So that I don’t have to.

So that I can spend the remains of my day in a cafe,

suspended between things I can barely afford,

and bus rides home I almost never have change for.

So that I can be heavy

with the expense and consequence of a night out,

and still, be covered in glitter,

So that I can choose,

To have the frame, and the mind, and the time,

To abandon a newspaper for a fantasy read and not feel the guilt,

To bring my shoulders back, my stomach in,

To legitimize a struggle,

To use a eulogy or language to do it,

To joke about the politics,

To speak of daily atrocity as if it not both from and beyond me,

To wear first-hand sneakers,

To still vanish into the sky,

To be shipped across an ocean dead or alive,

To Dream of having children

So that they will one day be able to touch things that I cannot,

To have them Imagine a sky for children of their own,

To feel the weight of knowing that there is no one way but Up,

To have the gravity of it then pull them down,

To have them, too, Dream

of how much it must have hurt,

and how great it must feel,

To be worthy,

Just because you are.