• Hannah Rousselot

Three Poems, Hannah Rousselot


BY THE LAKE

I went outside to smoke a bowl

(because my boyfriend was still sleeping

because the sunrise was magical

because I had no real reason, just desire).

While I was standing out there, my coat wrapped

tight around me and smoke wrapped

loosely around my vision, I saw the geese.

Well, I heard them first—outraged honks

and splashing water and the beating of wings.

Chasing, fighting, they would rise in the air

like deities and fall back into the water

like bullets. Finally getting high, I start to think of

my students, all of whom know what a gun is.

EARTHQUAKE

I.

I feel strangely exposed,

rummaging in the basement

of my grandparents’ home.

I can hear the bones

of this house shifting.

In the dusty corner on a dusty stool

is a dusty book. I blow

off the age and see (in my grandmother’s

handwriting): Book of the Dead.

There’s a greasy fingerprint

on the first page.

II.

The salt sucked at his feet,

leaving suction cup blisters.

He pushed at the water,

and it pushed him back.

It blew through his bones,

buried smog in his pores,

soaked oil into his skin.

Under his control

the boat lurched,

but never tipped.

When he came home, my grandmother

sat her husband down and licked the salt out of him.

She spat it all into a bucket.

After, she added water

to the salt and poured it on the flowers.

III.

My grandmother woke with salt

crystallized on her cheeks,

Grainy under her fingers.

She put on her thin slippers

and walked through her silent home.

She avoided the pictures on her wall.

She opened the door to her yard,

cringed at the sunlight,

and called her remaining children.

When she had nothing to do,

she sang the songs her mother

sang to her during the war.

My grandfather listened silently,

just outside the room.

IV.

There are no gravestones

in La Tremblade, France.

Only pictures.

I turn the rasping pages,

hoping the memories will leak

onto fingers, so I can suck them off.

WHAT I AM TOLD

I.

Stop!

Girls don’t do that.

They don't play,

they don't speak,

they don't imagine.

They never have moon soaked skin

or feelings that run off in rivers.

They never have dirt in their scrapes

and bruises on their knuckles.

Stop, or else no one will want you.

II.

Listen,

women need to enjoy sex,

but not as much as you do.

Women need to laugh,

but not like that. Laugh

meekly, your emotions folded up.

Don't laugh loudly from your stomach.

If you have to cry, make sure you don’t

scrunch up your face and wipe that snot

dripping out of your nose.

It’s cool that you don’t care,

but you really should shave.

Women don't have fuzzy legs and

they don't have oil in their hair

because they forgot to shower.

Listen,

just try a little harder

and then you will be liked.

III.

The broken mirror reflects back

a multitude of faces.

None of them look like me.

IV.

We will be what we want to be.

I will be what I want to be.

I will imagine galaxies,

soak my skin with emotion,

and drink strength.

I speak the language

of the flowers that grow

in the cracks on the sidewalk.

Hannah Rousselot is a queer DC based poet. She has been writing poetry since she could hold a pencil and has always used poems as a way to get in touch with her emotions. She writes poetry about the wounds that are still open, but healing, since her childhood and the death of her first love. Her work has appeared in Voices and Visions magazine, Panoply zine, Postcard Poems and Prose, and Parenthesis Magazine. In addition to writing poetry, Hannah Rousselot is also an elementary school teacher. She teaches a poetry unit every January, and nothing brings her more joy than seeing the amazing poems that children can create. You can explore more of her work at facebook.com/hmrpoetry.


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