In the Present, I Dream of You in the Past

Ahja Hawkins

You’re heavy-handed,
my memories of you gripping to my dreams relentlessly,
veins showing, blue and surging resentfully.
My dreams, now reddened and pulsing with life, are completely candid.  
Your voice, grating as a log, floats to the top of my mind. And did
you have something to say? You asked “kindly”. Something slip from your lips accidentally?
And I, clamped-shut and pearl-protecting, denied mindlessly.
Marionette strings were tied to my limbs, warping and bending as you commanded.
Now my dreams are blurring and smudging, your voice as foggy and distant as the past.
My mind is landing, waking up, adjusting to the present.
A warm body greets me, breath rising and falling, life contained in its shell.
The same face from my dreams lies next to me in bed, the “calm” in a weather forecast.
I imagine your angry face, the way your eyes expand, the way your lips sag, overbent.
You are completely quiet at this moment, trapped between past and present, in a jail cell.

Ahja Hawkins is a 16-year-old living in Gretna, Louisiana. She attends the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and is currently in her third year of high school. She was the regional winner of Poetry Out Loud, has been awarded a silver key in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and won third place in the Pinkie Gordon Lane Poetry Competition. Ahja loves spoken word and slam poetry, and she is always looking for a way to improve her skills. 

"Foggy Hike" by josh___dunn is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!