Back to Issue Twenty-Three.




Rain who fills our mouths with sky-seed sharp & quick,

thick velvet filling rows of fresh & loosened dirt,

pools of red mud for the rearing worm and scuttle-foot beetle.

We held this insect life in the blue bowl of our hands,

rinsed our skin in the river, let the ice-spring run warm

and orange with our hearty rust, our maroon soft livers.

What does the river remember, the stream that bore us?

Our eyes carry our faces with no sense of the before,

just a roving & combing—how to go & how to go back.

Did we cross water sucking at the seasway with our teeth,

did we move in the slow muscle of mountains, wind lifting our heels?

We hunt by night, frisk the earth for some laden trove to eat from,

some smoked fire to burn off our questions in feathered ash.

Under stone-lit skies we roam the rounding wide brain,

scrape the insides of our eyes clean, gather & fold our silk,

count our gold coins & jewelry, press butter between our palms,

proof that we are well-fed. Language threads our ears needle to drum,

words tonguing our memory, drawing out lengths of river-map, fish bones,

wet grit of where we have been, the names of ancestors whom we know,

whom we do not know, the living and once-lived, slow rain who keeps

filling our mouths, we are collecting you drop by drop.


Janan Alexandra was born in Nicosia, Cyprus to a Lebanese mother and American father. She holds a BA in Afro-American Studies & Poetry from Smith College, was a 2013 poet-in-residence at the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets, and has been published in Rusted Radishes, a literary journal coming out of Beirut, Lebanon. Currently based in Portland, Maine, Janan teaches creative writing workshops to youth at the Telling Room, cooks hot meals for hungry folks, and plays the violin. She sees writing as a transformative mode of survival & resistance and believes that we all have essential stories to hear & tell.

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