Poems That Read Us From ‘Another’ Atlas of the Difficult World*

      for the pregnant Egyptian women held
      hostage in the Sinai Desert March 2014

I know you are not reading this poem,
you and your unborn infant captured,
caged, sequestered, silenced in the Sinai Desert,
there to be tortured until your ransom arrives.

I know you are not reading this poem, remembering
the dropped basket full of candles, carrots, onions, lentils
and dreams you would have prepared
for a sweet repast with your beloved.

I know you are not reading this poem, feeling two heartbeats torn
between unnatural death and more unnatural life, valuing
your child’s butterfly strokes in the red lake
of your womb, valuing more than ever
life’s ordinary and simple gifts.

I know, alert to your new one’s life, you are not reading this poem,
but rather the alacritous song within your womb keen
to be heard, keen to break through
the geography of fear you cannot bear to speak.

I know you are not reading this poem, looking up
to the distant Mt. Sinai, adamant face of God, imagining
Moses, his face again shining, a light descending
this very mountain ages ago, and wondering
if your Exodus is in God’s plan.

I know you are not reading this poem, but praying
Haz’rat Bibi Miriam, Asalam Alekum, yet doubting
divine presence cares . . .
suddenly hearing a voice humming
(no, not the electric hum through the wires) but a deeper humming –
Is it inside of you – or out? Breaking
your tender alabaster heart, setting
your bones vibrating, increasing
the warm, honeyed flame filling you – brimming!

I know you are not reading this poem, attending
the new vibration, the new song becoming your whistle
in the dark among the whining of jackals
as you lullaby your unborn.

Yet I know you may feel the light from eyes, re-teaching
you how beautiful you are, scattering
seeds, planting trees, reorganizing cells until the shining
pours out of your skin – eyes reading
this poem of the earth’s body, holding
you in the phoenix chamber of her heart.


*Pastiche of Adrienne Rich’s poem of a similar title, beginning, I know you are reading this poem . . .


Melissa Reed

About Melissa Reed

Melissa (Mei An) Reed is an International Baccalaureate Professor of English A Literature and Composition, English B, Theory of Knowledge, Literature in Performance, and Theater Arts. She has been teaching for over seven years in various countries, including Malaysia, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and China. She is also a published scholar who studies with her students literature’s soul-mending powers. Portland is her home, where during holidays she reflects on the life of teaching and soul mending through poetry. Reclaiming Persephone’s Choice reflects on the tender Icarus and Andromeda, inner archetypes often drowned out from recognition in today’s media-driven, global warrior-pirate cultures and how teachers like Persephone accept to journey into the dark depths of the inner underworld to bring out the sparks of light and creative powers within their students.
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