Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramafound: sweetbrokenbeautiful
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content
found: sweetbrokenbeautiful Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by alexis gumbs, United States Jun 29, 2005
Health   Poetry


the story of a girl finding herself
in parts

a character description

pens in her hands like cut glass
bleed a sharp truth everywhere.

right here

(wherever she knows
you will see it)

since age 18
she has been carving
her name
invisible on her right hip bone.

she recently started keeping her nails short
(not in penance,
not for safety)
out of an insistence
on the integrity
of the shape
of her hand.

her moods

everyone is either a
loved one
a stranger
or both.
no inbetween

questions shamelessly
me, herself, everyone
but especially

she makes homes out of edges
she makes love letters out of doorways with her back.

she moves her arms about her waist as if
(which is true)
she were deciding whether to
brace her bones for the moment
or embrace the whole place.

sweet meets broken
(in sweet’s voice, confidentially)

the first time I met her she was screaming

pounding her wrists into drywall
trying to break down through steps crashing up
straining against railings
cursing towards 8 flights of ceiling
kicking at thresholds
and slamming the door

throwing her
left shoe
sweat shirt
at the mirror

she tried to embrace the floor
she pushed her hands into the sides of her unsteady mirror
pressed her forehead on the glass
smearing the cool surface with her nose
until she looked up
hardly breathing
at me.

broken meets sweet
(in broken’s voice, disbelieving)

i had predicted it a week before
and I still couldn’t believe it

my mirror fell off the wall for the third time
and finally shattered

my cd player acted like nothing had happened
but I felt my spin slowing
my hand traced
under my ribs
above my hip
to the pieces of glass on the floor

and I met her eyes
for the first time
heard her voice

she was singing bell edges to the sharp glass between our fingers
she was singing strong ridges to my first layer of skin
she was singing my name in seven unrecorded dialects

but my heart only beat once
and she held me while I cried
she was the first stillness I had known in years
and I kept those shards of glass in an overflowing plastic cup
in case

beautiful meets broken
(in beautiful’s voice, gravely)

i found her one night
sitting in an abandoned phone booth
chin on her knees
cell phone open
red light steady/ no reception
listening hard

so still
if I hadn’t been staring
(looking for reflection in the pretend glass walls)
I couldn’t have noticed her shaking
If I hadn’t (exhausted) pressed my cheek against the glass
I wouldn’t have heard the whispering
streaming through her teeth
and her bottom-lip
falling in the space between her hair
her hand
her forehead
(I swear it was my name)

she was not crying
she was
she was staring down blankly into the moment
we would have to stand up.

broken meets beautiful
(in broken’s voice, the voice of experience)

I’d been looking for her everyday

my fingers tearing through strands of ever tangled hair
mornings drowning in the shower
cutting up my clothes in case she wanted to breathe or something
and as it would happen
she found me
one night

my face was full of floor
growing walled
all corners
yielding to the pressure of my knuckles

every place where bone met muscle met metal
was a war
and I had been here enough to know that
wars are never won
wars are rarely survived

and everytime I blinked
my head was in a different corner of the phone booth
after every breath
I was lower down

my cell phone dead weight
the empty phone jack a gaping haunted entrance
my ears fist-sized open
dry and spilling

and finally my hands
fell to the ground
my forehead hit the outer door glass

and there she was
eyes heavy with waiting
edges salt soft

and we went home.



You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile
alexis gumbs

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a second year PhD student in the Duke University English Department in Durham, North Carolina, USA. Alexis thinks she can find models for creative political resistance to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the prison industrial complex, the war on drugs, the global war on terror and the occupation of Palestine in the formal qualities of literature by black women and the work of musical sensation OutKast. Crazy right? Alexis is currently co-facilitating a workshop called Love Circles with Durham elementary schoolers and workshop called Choosing Sides with gang members in Durham who have been suspended from Durham Public Schools. She also serves on the National Young Women of Color Council (dedicated to awareness, empowerment, prevention and treatment of HIV) and the planning committee of the International Black Youth Summit. Alexis has also recently published a youth action workbook called Emergency Broadcast that is being used by young people and youth educators across the United States and in Trinidad, Jamaica, Anguilla and the UK.
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.