My teeth are splintering
worn down by night grinding
the raw grief held in the mouth
ancient as coal within diamonds.
My teeth are splintering into bone
fragments I swallow, raw edges my tongue
licks like wounds. My teeth
are splintering and I have no power
to stop the collapse of these mountains
I thought would last forever.
In my dreams, I scale their snowcapped
peaks and rappel their deadly cliffs,
spitting blood in the tender moments
My teeth are splintering the way
a tree struck by lightning
splits at night, no one seeing
the heartwood revealed
in flashes of white against black.
The damage is done, how do we
repair? Our teeth are clenched in rage,
in fear, and beware beware.
When these levies finally break
the bodies we have swallowed
will float to the surface
of our dammed and damaged minds
and their eyes
like burning diamonds
will splinter our silence
as from their lips
Peace be upon you!
Siyo, my brother, peace.
as from their lips
will flood the hymns, the cries,
the lamentations they dammed
for so long and can hold back no longer,
their teeth splintered to diamond swords
and their tears robing us in a coat
of many colors—flayed skin
made holy at last, they hold us,
the risen dead, closer than the blood
in our mouths, as from our lips
God help us!
as from our lips
streams the flood the will lift us at last,
past the broken levies and empty promises
to the starry incisors of the hills
and we will lift our hands and throats
in great unison
and give praise.
By Andréana Elise
Andréana Elise is a poet, essayist, traveler, teacher, and community builder. She’s also a Baha’i—a Faith that’s taken her on a wild ride across continents and cultures. She’s the author of Circle the Bones with Shining and Songs of Deliverance (both forthcoming), shedding light on women’s suffering and soulwork. She works with beautiful people of all backgrounds to embody justice and make refuge for the human spirit. You can find her walking in the Tennessee wilderness or online: aelefton.org