RICHMOND, VA, 2020
BY ALISSA BARBER
the cool September breeze
touches me comfortingly
and makes it way past,
as a withered leaf reaches the pavement
and the squeak of bike wheels
echoes in my eardrums.
the fabric on my cheeks
reflects every breath,
two layers of polypropylene
all I need to protect me.
as my feet scrape the pavement
my eyes inspect the scene.
those that are daring sit close.
the even more confident
smile broadly unashamed
of the light hitting their face freely.
others fingers reach out over tables,
intertwining, sharing a secret.
through the grass and trees
a cement block and a plaque deserted,
lonely with nothing to top it.
a memory of the past
painted with words that promise
something to come in the future.
but my feet come to a halt,
while my mind runs wild.
finding a place to rest
underneath the soft shadow
cast by branches intertwined.
stuck in the middle of a moment.
and I wonder what my future holds?
will I die with
a smile forever hidden,
in a city full of
loose ends and lost dreams,
will I ever know a love
when I’ve been told not to get close?
BY LINDSAY BROWN
I will die in a plume of pink smoke under a particularly magnificent aurora borealis.
A tall black monolith will mark my grave.
People will shed white tears at my funeral and bellow in pain and in sorrow in one collective anthem.
They will throw gardenias into the plot of earth that I will rest in, the flowers will rot on top of my plain pine wood box.
My body will decompose, sour rotting stinking flesh.
My hair will grow long; my fingernails too will curl in a flagrant and raw defiance to God.
The meat of my flesh will eventually be eaten, my nerve endings disintegrated.
My heart that once beat love for my tribe will silently and slowly vanish.
My calcified bones will lie still in a sordid pile of leftover human.
Until one day my remains will be dug up.
People will murmur their appreciation at my perfect fossilization.
They will admire the way my spine curved in curiosity, the engorged sphere of my skull.
They will tremble in wonder at the pieces of fingers and toes and measure their length.
But they will not understand how I lived.
Though they may be able to run a delicate finger round my eye socket, they will not be able to see what I have seen.
They will not understand the magic or the stars like I had.
They will not know the stretch of foam that outlined the sea, nor the mountaintops glazed with snow, as I knew like the back of my hand.
They will not be able to recall the nearly maddening darkness of jungles I have explored, not the sunbaked rock I have crawled over like a salamander.
I already feel sorry for my excavators because they knew not of the cold sweet grapes I tasted or the thrill of dancing under moonlight with my lady.