"Mix," "We Are Loud," and "This For That" by Ayana Edwards

Categories: ISSUE 02: Billie

Mix

She found her roots in a crimson fold of earth,

a curl of her grandmother’s hair

and the ripe edge of a drum,

tucked and pressed down.

Hidden,

like a photograph in an album,

trapped underneath that clear sheet that sits over top,

but now yellowing and stiff.

She found the mixture of red clay and black ground, amethyst and obsidian, white water and stone

that made up the ruddy freckled brown tones of her own face.

She saw the fingerprints, left behind,

traced the infinite loops and curves;

lines that spelled numbers that made years,

that spanned backwards

into the very first meetings between those she never met.

And couldn’t admit they had met each other.

Those strangers, turned lovers, turned the swimming brown irises

of her eyes.

Watching soap circles on the floor.

Her grandmother was a maid, and back then White men didn’t claim

those children.

And back then mixed children in Black neighborhoods weren’t treated kindly.

Her mother had the nearly-white scar where they drove a shovel into her shin to prove it.

She found her peace in the pictures,

underneath that stiff yellow sheet, in a crimson leather album

where she could find eyelashes that matched hers

and patterns in the face shapes.

Her family’s stretched roots, made flat

and stacked deep within the folds of a book,

in the back of her mother’s closet.

 

O Typekey Divider

 

We Are Loud

I had experienced those buzzing sounds, and later discovered they were a common element of Near Death Experiences. The high frequency sounds are usually heard right before people are sucked into the pleats of time. I was lying, fetal, on a gold cotton comforter; all alone in a third floor apartment.

I was floating and I saw all of us darting, and stirring, and flickering naked light. We were busy and afraid and going nowhere but always moving. Like tiny electrical circuits, jagged currents that traveled in cycles shaped more like unusual boxes than perfect circles. Each person was thinking and their thoughts could be heard. Most thoughts carried little importance to anyone other than the thinker. Most thinkers thought about themselves.

It all layered and I could smell the collective distress over meaningless tasks and uncontrollable outcomes; self-imposed anxieties and overwhelming fears that peeled the skin and it caused me to feel something a little deeper than pity. Compassion, maybe. I kept pulling farther and farther away and could see how these small conversations with the self were like tiny pin pricks allowing light to shine in a deep black space; and how very, very, unsure each individual made the whole.

We were like a bubble. A delicate, transparent, rainbow colored reflective skin; that I wanted to swat the air underneath and breathe into to keep bouncing and lifting and growing. It was obvious we were wobbling and about to burst and disappear instantaneously at any second. I saw myself in the midst, moving just as fast, and just as afraid and just as bright. I felt an intense balance between feeling the smallest I had ever felt and never more sure of my significance.

From that view, I can tell you, prayers vibrate like the humming of bees. We are always naked. And for most of us faith, in anything, is like medicine. Time bends. There are no conclusions. We are loud.

 

O Typekey Divider

 

This For That

I collect sand to make castles

and fine china to make maps.

I take ocean water for baptisms

and dried paint flakes

for cereal.

I saw Picasso

on a spoon,

the red sea

in a church basement.

I saw infinity

in the loop of an earring,

and found my reflection

in the face of a tarot card.

I collect branches to build friendships

and hold keys

to turn days.

I use umbrellas

to shield heartache,

and dreams as distractions.

 

--Poems by Ayana Edwards
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--Background photo by Thomas Pitre
--Foreground photo by Sarah Edwards