E is for Eden

 

It lasts a while. The bitter aftertaste of sorrow
and something sweet. Like honey waves soaked

in lemon juice, it creates hollow spaces between
moments of unabridged whiteness. Glance over

once and the skies have a different story to tell.

You were created with a purpose:

a land of all lands, neither heaven nor earth
suspended between the blue wings of oceans
and their unoccupied gaze.

Once there were creatures here, inhabiting
your luscious corners, and they prodded and swiveled
and flew to please you.

You were made in somebody’s image,
but you have forgotten.

What remains now is the aftermath –
even that stripped of all its glory.

The eyes of men are saddened by the sudden
shadows unveiling in women’s eyes. Your breath

was once dirt, ash, tangible and ugly. Your face
did not exist. The contours that shape your smile,

your hairline, the timid dimple on the left cheek, they
were all ash. Here is what was: only the thought of

being loved and rejected, being loved and birthed,
being loved and destroyed. Your breath does not have

the apple’s acre taste; it smells of something wild and
unadorned, it says do not fear, it is I, it whispers at night

when you are cold and shivering and alone in this world.

This breath is not yours to take:
mend it and oceans will flow once again.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Mahtem Shiferraw is a poet, visual artist and cultural activist. She grew up in Eritrea & Ethiopia. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Her work has been published in The 2River View, Blast Furnace, Blood Lotus, Bohemian Pupil Press, Cactus Heart, The Missing Slate and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles. You can find her here: http://mahtemshiferraw.com/

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8 Responses to A poem by Mahtem Shiferraw

  1. lemlem says:

    So deep and beautiful,

  2. Biruktawit Meselu says:

    It’s very tuchable .good Job

  3. […] E is for Eden was published at the beginning of the year by Mad Hatters Review. […]

  4. Eden says:

    Mahtemina words can’t express my deepest feeling,all I can say is thank you and may
    May God help you your dream to come true. lots of love.

  5. […] can read some of her poetry online: “Blood Disparities,” “She says they come at night…,” “E is for Eden,” “Something Sleeps in the Mud-Beds of the Nile,” “Small Tragedies,” “Synesthesia.” (I […]

  6. […] can read some of her poetry online: “Blood Disparities,” “She says they come at night…,” “E is for Eden,” “Something Sleeps in the Mud-Beds of the Nile,”“Small Tragedies,” “Synesthesia.” (I […]

  7. […] can read some of her poetry online: “Blood Disparities,” “She says they come at night…,” “E is for Eden,” “Something Sleeps in the Mud-Beds of the Nile,” “Small Tragedies,” “Synesthesia.” (I […]

  8. […] can read some of her poetry online: “Blood Disparities,” “She says they come at night…,” “E is for Eden,” “Something Sleeps in the Mud-Beds of the Nile,” “Small Tragedies,” “Synesthesia.” (I […]

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