i am walking the edge of the winter forest.
you, behind, preoccupied. i am gathering thin
dry branches. bark weather stripped. sun
bleached. will they snap dry. i am getting to
the heart wood with this knife. the kindling is
wet with blood where i slip. you, behind
examine the birches. i was here. i was here. in
your hand. i was here. you wrote it with your
fingernail. but it fades now. the woods have
taken your picture down. the fire i build will
not sustain us.
and did the warplanes come in the early
morning as they slept. and it was the chemical
bomb that so quick laid children down like
lazy piles of cherubim, the eyes surprised and
hands upturned, mouths still shaping "holy,
holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole
earth is full of His glory." and did they choke
on the gas of hatred. and their saviours,
punched out silhouettes, fell in holy fits of
foam as they too drew the air. and their
relations rent, so tender were their bodies laid
one against the other. and did they seem to
peer still out from behind the other's arm. and
where they lay them down to rest, holy, holy
Lord Almighty, the whole earth weeps, full of
glory. ah the eye, the eye, the eye! the dullness
of the eye that does not dream. the pupil
forever begging light.
blue, bad mothers
this liturgy for the clitoris cut. for labias
minor, major. requiem of the orgasm, of the
wholeness, of the life. these be the problems,
but ah, you. tedium. cut your eyes. rounding
on your own with that arched brow. this
requiem for that lost office of queens. you red
one, you cheek. petty don't age nice. and you
can't pass that inner nay, that other woman's
slack, compared. you got more salt than grief.
ripped hijabs, but that don't touch you. nor
threats of gendered armageddon. this liturgy
for the girl who did everything she was told.
your woe don't harmonize with others'. if you
ain't makin' money, say if you ain't makin'
money, ain't no one else deserves it. if there
are hidden bruises, does it really serve your
cause? someone else can tend that busted bird
wing of the revolution. this liturgy for all
those blue, bad mothers before you who
dared grow tired. thinking of their husk
mouths, that can never water, and their slug
blood boiled down. their ropy legwork. their
interminable farewells to missing kin.
watching things vital slip from their once
great grip. that one's not even trying to live
you. this liturgy for your pride. how do i look
mourning your exit?
even the green things are dirty
it is morning and the geese are on the gray
water. spring mud. even the green things
striving from the ground are dirty. beat the
alarm. raining and the bus commute. i see on
the side of the road a boot tread. i see. on the
side of the road. a boot tread. truck loaded
with beer flips on highway 2. i see. i see. the
bus is stopped. loading passengers. i see on
the side of the road a boot tread. found a five
in my pocket. i see on the side of the road
something pressed into the earth. a boot
tread. i see. found a penny in the mud. there is
something once white. round. something
waiting to be known again. i see. hit every
green light. on the side of the road. a boot
tread. i see something made of white row
pebbles. i see on the side of the road a boot
tread. i see on the side of the road something
open wide. a boot tread has pressed down my
Natalie Hanna is a queer Ottawa lawyer of Middle Eastern heritage, whose writing focusses on feminist, political, and personal themes. She runs battleaxe (small) press, is the Administrative Director of Sawdust Reading Series, and serves as newsletter editor and board member at Arc Poetry Magazine. Her work has appeared with above/ground press, in/words, and phafours press, among others.
The poems featured here appear in her chapbook dark ecologies, available from above/ground press.
* Hanna's poems have been modified for digital publication. In their original print form, her poems appear as justified paragraph blocks.