Sunday, June 28, 2015

Need a Little Help Making the Coffee

Dear Friends,

There is a new project that I am working on and I need YOUR help. I am beginning to craft my first book of poetry! The words of poetry have been part of my life since before I can remember. My first memory of poetry is actually spoken word by none other than the supreme Maya Angelou. I was seven years old and for my birthday that year, my grandma took me to see her live. We sat in the front row with my feet dangling from the chair in awesome wonder of this incredible poet. Thinking back to that moment, I can't remember what she said, but I do know that I went home and wrote my first poem. It was about a puddle.

The subject matter of my poetry has moved beyond the weather, but it hasn't changed from what I observe each day. My poetry has shifted and changed, as I have discovered who I am as a woman and a poet. I want to continue to challenge myself with my writing and so I have decided to tackle my first book of poetry. This book will couple my love for biblical stories and spotlighting the voices of women! This book will have poems where I imagine the voices of biblical women in telling their own stories. I will base these pieces on research from the Bible, commentary from biblical scholars, and my own imagination.

I need help from YOU in choosing the women that I will spotlight in this book. Think about biblical stories of women that move you, stories that made you think, made you feel and write your top three biblical women in the comments below. I cannot promise that every woman will get into the book, but I would truly appreciate your help in compiling the voices of this book. Below I have added the two poems that sparked this idea. Thank you so much for your help!

As a slave no one asks you anything
I don’t remember the last time I was asked a question.

No asks if your feet burn
Running across blazing sand
To fetch water at the hottest part of the day,

No one is curious about how your back aches
As you rearrange skins on the tent floor,

No one wonders if your arms tire
After beating out stains from
Everyone’s clothes but your own.

And no one would ever consider to ask you
If you wanted to be taken to an old man’s tent
The smell of stale wine assaulting your senses,

No one asked if it was alright for him
To lay you on your back
Pull up your skirts &
Plunge himself into the last place that was yours

No one wondered whether a mistress should beat a pregnant woman
Assaulting the body she put in her husband’s bed
Marking a swelling belly with bruises.

No one asks if you want to get off your feet
After you can’t even seen them
Because there is a body you never asked for inside of you.

No one is curious about your comfort
When it is not your child that you drive out
Into the arms of a midwife that does not know your name.

And no one asks you if you want to hold the child
Still attached to you by a thick cord
When your mistress is there to cut it.

No one is curious if you are happy with a child
You didn’t ask for…
But for the first time it doesn’t matter
Because he has your strong hands.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise
That in the midst of a smile
While your mistress’ belly grows

A man you met once in a tent
Would never ask you if you wanted to leave
He wouldn’t ask you if you wanted time to prepare,
There would simply be a hand pointed away &
A trudge to take with a boy who was getting to heavy to carry.

No one wonders if you make it
With a boy who is too hot and hungry
For something you don’t have.

No one is curious if it is difficult to watch
As the strong hands that grew inside of you
Become weaker
While the screams get stronger.

And no one asks if a miracle of water
Changes the past or
Makes the nightmares go away.

As a slave no one asks you anything,
But God, You asked me one question
A long time ago
And to tell the truth
That makes a difference to me.

Written by: Elyssa J. Salinas
March 21, 2015

My brothers never talk to me & sometimes I wonder if my father knows my name.
But one man knew my name.                                                                  
He asked me for a walk &
Asked me to his bed.

All night he repeated Dinah &
With my name still dripping off his palate,
I kissed his lips that tasted like curiosity.

I am a voiceless void in my family
Where my abomination lies in my body
And the only salvation has been taken from me,

By brothers who never talk to me
Afraid that I would produce impurity
Without their watchful eyes.

When my father told them,
About the man who wanted my hand
I wonder if he could even remember my name.

My body is accustomed to being in the hands of men.
But holding a dying man in my arms
Made me see my own death;

My womb will lay barren
Because of zealous brothers &
A cowardly father.

My arms will never hold a child
Looking to her face &
Seeing my own.

My lips will never call out
A name that I chose
A name that I would never forget.

Well my name is Dinah, father
And I have something to say, dear brothers

You should have killed me too,
Because I am already dead.

Written by: Elyssa J. Salinas 
March 22, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This Coffeepot Stays

Fear is a lot stronger than I ever expected. Fear is what has kept me from writing. Fear has kept me from living. And it is fear that keeps coming back for me. I wrote over a year ago how I have been afraid, but I felt that with a lot less hair, I was able to beat fear. I was wrong.

I'm sitting at my desk with a box of tissues because I'm afraid of being honest. I'm afraid that the guy across the courtyard will seeing me crying as he waters his plants. I'm afraid of going to bed tonight and not saying a word about how much I cried today. I cried today because I'm afraid. I cried and I feel absolutely ridiculous. Because I'm so afraid of staying put.

Life is terrifying when things are going wrong and you're hoping for something to stop you from running. Then finally you stop running. You start to get your feet on the ground for more than a moment. Life is slowing down and you are walking at your own pace, toward the life you hoped for all along. One foot is placed in front of the other; one step at a time. Then before you know it, life allows you to stop. Stop and catch an acceptance letter, a partner who falls in love with you, a scholarship, a job, an apartment, and opportunity. Life is happening and this morning I woke up waiting to pack and run again. I've been waking up, waiting for something to be wrong and some reason to move again.

I've spent all of my, (albeit short) adult life in constant transition. There are moving boxes that I haven't throw away for seven years because they are already labeled for my next move. My boxes are ready for the next place I have to call home. Home sweet home...out of necessity. There are some treasures that I have not unpacked since high school because I didn't have the room, or I couldn't bear glancing at them before putting them back in a box. Now I'm sitting at a desk where my permanent change of address form is sitting next to me. It's there with mail sent to this address, because this is where I live now. This is where I live and I get to stay here more than nine months. I live in an apartment without a set move out date that I know the moment I walk in. I've unpacked...everything. I have taken everything out of tissue paper and there have been lots of broken-down cardboard in the recycling bin out back. I've unpacked, but I've had a feeling that I was holding something and not taking it out of the box. There is something I've kept wrapped up and it is my truth. And truth is...that I don't really know how to unpack.

Some people have wanderlust and there bags are packed because it fuels them. It's not wandering for them, but adventure. I am not that person, but I've grown accustomed to living in temporary spaces that I never truly own. My movements have been decided by a paycheck or a grade report. Along the way, I've met some of my best friends and I never want to change that; they helped me discover adventure every step of the way. But now, I have a new adventure and it requires me to stay put.

I have plants now. Herb plants that sit on the windowsill. I water them everyday. I haven't had plants in years because I knew that I couldn't keep them. I knew that I would be moving before too long. Now I get to have them because I'm not going anywhere. Is this what putting down roots feels like? Plants on a windowsill? It's so simple and so important. I get to see my Dad on Father's Day and I'm going to get to give my Mom her birthday present in person. Because I'm home. I live here. I'm not going anywhere. And that is scarier than I thought.

Transition has been my routine. I would never get too comfortable and never put pictures in frames because they take up too much room in a box. I'm transitioning to a life with stability, a life I've been wanting and I'm scared. Again. I'm afraid to get comfortable. I'm afraid to unpack everything. I'm afraid of throwing away the box for my dishes that sits above the refrigerator because it's the perfect size to fit them all in. It's perfect for a move, but I'm not going anywhere.

I make coffee every morning and pour two cups. I keep the coffee grounds in a mason jar with a 2 tablespoon to scoop into the grinder. I do it the same way every morning. It's a real routine that I don't have to think about changing because I'm staying put. Is that unpacking? I don't know if it is, but for now I'll keep my routine. I'll keep making coffee in the morning. I'll keep unpacking...because I'm finally learning how to settle in. I'm finally home.