November 28, 2018

Flexible, Fluid Verses from Ariana Turner

Flexible, Fluid Verses from Ariana Turner




I can bend

and break,

mend and make


start riots and

cry out—

in surrender

of once feeling



I can close my eyes

and still see what is

gained, lost, and



for what is done

does not die.

It festers and


seeps into the hollows

of every passing



for pain itself

is simply a shelter

that serves to protect

the past from the threat

of being forgotten.


And yet

how can I ever want

to straighten my back


when I am

stronger through this weight

I carry?





You were not

the orange hue from the streetlamp.

You were

the streetlamp

as we lay upon my parents’ driveway

on nights that were heavy

with humidity

and our quick, quick laughter.


Not the light itself

that coated our


but that flickering beacon

on the street corner that

lent a hazy glow which cancelled out

the surrounding night.


I want to tell you

that shadows shimmering on the pavement

still exist.

They serve as a reminder

of the ever changing light.


You may have been

the beacon, but

I’m just like the trees, shaking against

a sudden gust of wind

when I think of you

now. I do not move,

but I creak and sometimes

leaves drop from me.





They’re stripping

the house bare,

or we are, we are

stripping the house bare.

miss me, miss me, now you gotta

I double-dog dare

The walls are now “butter” yellow,

a warm, creamy color to cover

up the grey.

The buyers

are supposed to like it.


Even the railings

are gone,

unplugged from their holes in the walls, so

my hands end up grasping at air. But

cross my heart and hope

that’s not permanent.


I once swung

from these branches and perched

here to clamber onto the roof,

and now I find the workers outside,


the ceiling popcorn from their skin.

please, please, PRETTY please,

I really shouldn’t mind, it’s not as if

I’ll be here much

longer. Things will just be


ready or not, here I come






Here you can be both

island and continent;

land that runs red and blushes

pink before it seamlessly becomes

ocean blue.


I have traced the space

between the rainforest town

of my father

and the urban sprawl from which

he eventually departed;

I have run my fingers

along the rambling roots

of trees with textured curves that

rival unbroken



I have awoken

to kookaburras and cockatoos,

have befriended possums and wallabies,

have smelled fresh eucalyptus and ripe mango,

and have fallen asleep to a chorus of magpies

and the obstinate bellow

of the cane toad.


History here is both

recent and ancient,

stories carved into the earth

of how the first people

and the land

are one.


It is here

where the ocean current

pushes me further from shore,

only to usher me home

once more.





I imagined that you looked

the same as the day

you were laid

in the ground,


but I saw that in the unearthing

the adornments of ceremony

and of memory




and that even your very softness

has disintegrated,

left only


your fragmented outline:

rough edges that delineated

a silhouette that danced

along the brink of



The might of imagination

and the weight of scientific discovery

meant that I could attempt

to piece together the details of a life long thought to be



I wanted

to brush away the dirt and grime

that obscured your visage,

but I worried

that doing so would cause

your image


to come apart

in my hands.






Ariana Turner is a writer and doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Northwestern University. When she is not writing stories, she is conducting research on the psychological significance of how people tell their stories. Her poetry will soon be featured in Voice of Eve. She’s lived in Kansas, California, Italy, Sri Lanka, and Australia—but now resides in Chicago with her cat, Apollo.





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