She By Andréana Elise


She is hard to kill –
this girl kneeling in tall grasses,
lifting her head from the mud.

After years of exhaustion
she’s charged with new life
and runs into the sun as if
willing that divine body
to hold her close and nuzzle her
with a kiss like burning coal.

She knows what’s coming,
senses the tectonic shifts –
the quaking plates –
the gathering up of gale force winds
and tsunamis slamming against
villages, consuming
our babies and grandparents.

She’s lived through suicide
attacks, and the collapse
of commerce and politics.

Each day, she waits
for the body count to rise,
numbing her fingers
on an endless blue

She forgets
how to speak and how to eat.
Sleep evaporates like mist
on jasmine leaves in the garden
of the Lord, on Mount Carmel.

She lived here once, by the sea’s
wide arc, and returns, in her dreams,
climbing the green terraces
where flame trees, caught in sunlight
burn secrets into her eyes.

Her pupils shrink to specks of dust –
and when she blinks, it is dusk again,
the city cloaked in fallen stars
as the living and the dead
walk together up the mountainside,
wearing bright colors and singing.

Fountains burst on her right,
on her left, and she stands
in their midst unwavering
calling her body back to life.

She senses them,
the ones who didn’t survive –
the mothers lost in childbirth,
the strangled brides and sisters
who felt their only option
was to starve themselves
to death.

She senses them –
the deathless ones –
holding her hands,
pressing cool wrists
to the small of her back,
kissing her forehead
with feather-soft breath.

Together, they ascend.
Up the white steps and into
the blue and radiant night.
They climb –
past the golden shrine lit
like a paper lantern
in the heart of Carmel.

Up and up they flow
like sap, like milk, like blood
Spilt in sacrifice.
They merge yet remain
faithfully alone
singing to the earth,
to the children, their very breath
the hush that brings healing.

She joins them,
this chorus on the mountainside.
Even as her spirit stays
inside her bones,
even as she stirs
and shifts, lifting her lids

in a pale green room
in her own home, her own garden
where the sun hangs
in the locust trees
brightly burning

And she is,
cell by wounded cell,

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:

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