Ash by Sharan Strange

By Sharan Strange

Advent via Sonia Sanchez Winner of the 2000 Barnard New girl Poets Prize

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Sample text

They get the apportioned body, a sanctioned measure of salvation. 37 Words during War January 1991 The landlady’s low hum of Spanish prayer mixes with the sound of eastbound planes overhead. She lights candles for the people there who are under siege, who will get no food, no water, and cannot, without the bomb’s flash, see a loved one’s face. I glimpse her family now and then, hear their cadenced voices, the heavy thumping of their steps. I’m taunted by the spicy smell of rice and beans simmering in her kitchen below me.

He´le`ne Cixous When he wrote the word, the o’s were joined like eyeglass lenses without a bridge. Cross-eyed, hypnotic, they threatened to merge, become Cyclopean. Myopic, I copied them. The chalkboard glimmered miles away, undecipherable, a blur. Somehow the boy next to me could conjure its contents in dutifully shaped squiggles and lines. In precise imitation, I repeated, made his eyes my own, sought windows into penmanship and spelling. On his page those jumbled, swimming white letters were transformed into black ones that sat apart, still enough to see.

She remembers nothing, her mind blank. No, that scene, like a snapshot— Still. No sound. A mouth of screams muffled as if covered by her own hand. Her body is a vessel of memories sealed tight, her divided self beckons in mirrors, the world passing through her. . 40 The Widow At eighty, the mind locks on some things like a trap. In her secretest heart she hasn’t given him up—a boy who in manhood must have grown more beautiful than when they had been lovers, in youth. A man who had prospered, made many children, and, with only the customary dalliances, honored one wife.

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