Excerpt from Eighteen
O slippery horizon, seeming fixed,
just within reach is your most perfect trick.
You keep us going by it – hang your dazzle
like the perfect carrot; we chomp and chomp
toward you. When you’re bright enough we need
never look behind; who wants to reach back
when the future beckons – a kept promise?
Eighteen, you know everything is at stake:
your possible life, hopes of making good
you long to realize, some nagging truth,
your sanity, pride. It is not a choice,
this horizon, but a bearable path.
We have faith in the signs saying This way
to happiness: you are closer each day.
You believe happiness is the bearable
vision of yourself: the woman who lives
certain in her skin; the woman who walks
unafraid, whose throat out-thunders thunder.
Each day she unwinds the bright rope of her
will, harnesses the hours for her pleasure.
Her laughter is an open door. Happy,
her heart empty of longing; happy is
her dreamless and unvisited sleep.
She is a bullet, a bird – all things swift
and light that ride on wind. She will not turn.
She will answer to no name but her own.
She is entire. She makes herself wide
so nothing can hold her; she holds all inside.
Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). She holds an MFA in Poetry and a graduate certificate in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Cornell University, and an MA in English and Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Alleyne’s fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and poetry have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as Women’s Studies Quarterly, Guernica, The Caribbean Writer, Black Arts Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gathering Ground, and Growing Up Girl, among others. Her work has earned several honors and awards, most recently the Picador Guest Professorship in Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany, a 2014 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship, and a 2010 Small Axe Literary Award. Alleyne is a Cave Canem graduate, and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently the Poet-in-Residence, and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.
Mari Hailu is a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University where she simultaneously received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Winner of the faculty-nominated 2014 Margaret Terry Crooks Award for Outstanding Creative Writing, and the David R. Russel Poetry Prize, Mari is grateful to be able to share her words with her community. She is a Managing Editor of The Wardrobe, a blog series affiliated with Sundress Publications, and in her spare time she enjoys playing music at local venues.