Lauren Mendez / School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH

English Teacher:  Ms. Wendy Braun

I.

Western Blues: Cinderella Macabre

Housed atop a foundation of bleeding clay,
locked in place by mesa days,
twilight breathes life into the woman’s terracotta soul.
Feet cracked, fingertips dusty as the desert floor,
wisps of a long day’s work
briskly swaddle her.

II.
Animal Mother:
In the doorway to guard her dreams
the coyote lies in wait.
Writing along the hearth
of a makeshift fireplace,
the snake prepares
a spoonful of lies in a broth of adversity.
Sun-raised flesh is cleansed
with the help of a dying estuary’s last breath,
kept inside the crux of a bluebird’s labyrinth cove.

III.
Nature Vixen--
Sinewy and humane, she dances with the wind
and returns to innocence.
Under her care, plumes of wilderness revitalize
and fight back to take over, only to be swept away
beneath a sallow core.

Emblazoned yet burdened by
the gift of the mother, the maiden, and the crone,
demure inklings, of gentle niceties

grace the maiden
with the sense
of absolution.

IV.
Earth Burial:
She dances, she dances, she sings songs of the earth with
misty river flowing through her veins.
Encapsulated by the windswept days gone by, the folly of reflection consumed her.
An organic girl, forever revered—but typically forgotten sun-locust being.
Feet nipped by her underground sisters of eras gone by.

She ascended to become an earthly saint, a
Goddess, a most celestial woman,
Who from the day on which she first began
To claim sovereignty had followed her desire,
Actualization, transcendence, and ire.
She had done heavenly in her countenance
And phased into being, woman of permanence,
As well in the end as when it began,
And ever bound, but not to man.

Upon her pedestal of enshroudment,
with lips that told tales of the Dead Sea,
Tongue of petrichor,
she remained contemplative to the end,
bedecked in a cavalcade of soft-light and garden-plucked peaches, ethereal.

V.
Sub-Saharan sadness.
“You subscribe to a certain kind of Sub-Saharan sadness,”
my mind, in a jumble of insomniac terrors shouted.

Most would see the words as chuff-filled flume,
a byproduct of Mugwort-based
cognitive dysphoria,
beautified by microcosms that occur behind closed eyes.

Though I am I rather than most.

The phrase,
even in all of its utter randomness,
led me to a fountain of thought.

Is my Sub-Saharan sadness a
quixotic euphemism for my perception of global xenophobia?
Or rather a
geographically misplaced reaction to
watching my people once again become disenfranchised on their own soil?

VI.
I await the inevitable flooding
that comes with the bursting of the sun,
so much so that the
fleshy receptacle in which I inhabit
has chiseled and reformed itself
over the years into a perfectly-functional ark.

When we return to Pangaea in unanimous anonymity,
only then will right be made right.

VII.

No more will I subscribe to Sub-Saharan sadness.

We all will be emboldened by Triassic bliss,
brought back to a time and place
where we knew not of either.

I laughed at it,
but now I welcome the idea of Paleolithic conversion therapy,
a chance to change what we have become.
VIII.
If we are brought back
to the brink of minstrel primality,
humans may learn a lesson in their own humanity.

When that day comes,
that day of picturesque armageddon,
I will be adrift and at peace,

with the sky above me, the earth below me, and fire within.