by Haneen Adi

Like the tuck and turn of womanly flesh
after a baby’s arrival
Like the human mind expands
to the scope of ideas larger
Like the neck ring of a T-shirt
stretched careless by the bowling ball head of a child

Some things never return to their original dimensions.

“There’s something strange about you folks”
A visitor would say, a company man on business
Half-hearted smirk on his twisted lips.
“There’s something strange about you folks”
But truth nevertheless,
a tiny stone freefalling down the infinite well wedged between his chest.
Jolted back into focus by the stewardess asking for his peanut wrapper
The long plane ride back to a place with less scars,
but his mind stuck equivocally
on West Federal
the graffiti that read “haunted heart”
the goose bumps on his skin raise their hands in surrender
how devastating to live in such a place, he thought.

Cities, like women and like men,
were children once.
We were children once
and like a child who has witnessed tragedy,
we wait to feel whole again.
Like a child who has witnessed tragedy,
we are no longer children.
And our children are born exhausted
Never hearing the screams of metal on metal stopping slowly years of shopkeepers unlocking their doors and beautiful women in floor length coats, nights at the theater and maryjanes your mother bought from McKelveys’s. Arms waving for taxis, restless chatter at a beauty salon, foot traffic, crowded streets, and bridges that twinkled in moonlight or sun.
but they know.
They have received an inheritance of rust and a mindset cold and Siberian.

There are some things
that can never return.

Clouds of smoke blending poetically in overcast skies.
United under a Cimmerian reality,
We drunkenly throw TV sets and toilets off rusted bridges
To beat at the memory of those who gave up on this city too easily.
We skip rocks by the train tracks and the factories, our castles of corrosion,
tidy subject matter for art students with single-lens cameras.

“There’s something strange about you folks”
They say and we listen.

Haneen Adi is a senior English major at Youngstown State University.