Red Lips & Battlefields

Four Years Old – A Memory


The brick beneath my foot
Is grey with memory.

I inspect it.

The left corner must have cracked
By virtue of a very big man
With much bigger feet than mine.

He must have been running.

Yes. He was.

My left ear buzzes.
The kind of buzzing that comes from
Being stared at,
Or being surrounded by flies.

I look up,

The eye of a gun;
It must have stared at me too long.

That’s what caused the buzzing.

I return my gaze to the broken brick.
Yes, he was running.

But, perhaps, he was not so big.
Perhaps, only four years too old.
Perhaps, he had a sister.


I do not raise my voice,
Or raise an unruly finger.
I know daddy will ask:
“Who taught you that?”


I close my eyes;
Imagine the finger pull.
Imagine the fire backfire.

Imagine an unlikely form
Of justice.

I giggle.
(MD 2013)

City of Ice

I am always told that I walk like I’m on a mission: I always have somewhere to go, and I don’t pause to look around me very often. This is probably the result of living in the middle of a busy city which is excruciatingly cold for at least six months out of the year. When it is -40 degrees Celsius outside, nobody wants to stop and make small talk with strangers, believe me. Sometimes though, very rarely, I cross paths with an individual that makes me halt. I slow down and observe, and I choose to extend a hand and connect with a fellow human being. Such encounters help me remember what it’s like to fall in love. Sometimes, it is a child running around a park with his father. I stop for five minutes and hold out my heart on my sleeve because such a display of unmediated fun is extremely rare in the city of snow. Other times, it may be an old woman begging for change. People like her usually have a strained look on their faces that makes me stop, re-route, purchase a meal, share it, and head on my way. Most rarely, I see a different sort of face: the type that forces my heart to skip a pulse. I want to embrace that person. I want him to know that somebody cares. I want to love him. This is the strangest type of encounter, because it suddenly becomes painfully personal. It’s easy to keep walking, and to ignore the feeling. Extending a hand to give of my own self feels most risky and frightening. It’s easier to be an ice queen in the frozen city.

Today, I walked through the city for the sake of walking. I chose to see everything that is usually an ordinary backdrop to my ordinary life as though I was seeing it for the first time. The architecture here is most stunning: you’ll be met with a medley of modern corporate buildings sharing ground with historic monuments, up to three hundred years old. You’ll see crowds of business men in fancy suits running past old Churches that they’ve never entered, past gardens sprinkled with rugged youth dressed in tattered clothing and yearning for new beginnings. You’ll see human constructions sprouting out of God-given natural havens, clubs lining the shore of the St. Lawrence river, cyclists swerving through intersections rich with human traffic. It is a beautiful city, right out of a movie scene: the perfect place to fall in love. The perfect place to stop and look, connect, breathe; yet most of us are running. Most of us walk without looking left or right, speeding towards our obligations. I looked up at the sky scrapers that block the view of the mountains; I shuddered and sped through the cold as I giggled. Yes, it is easier to be an ice queen in the city of ice; but I’d like to stop once in a while. I’d like to stop and embrace it. It is often worth the cold.

MD 22/09/2013

Bread and Circuses

Distraction and complacence draw the bottom line of the North American lifestyle. In the words of the satirist, Juvenal: “Everything now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” Give the people something to eat and a form of entertainment, and you can almost guarantee the eternal silence of their thinking. Juvenal used this metaphor to describe his people’s lack of political charge, and their inability to rise as critical thinkers. While this still applies today, as thousands of youth would sooner watch an action film than engage with information about the dozens of real-life wars, it also applies to our day-to-day struggle in forming connections with one another. Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.

We sit among groups of people for hours at a time: socializing, associating, entertaining. This often involves some sort of intoxication, be it alcoholic or, more simply, an intoxication with simplicity: basic, superficial conversation. We do not think of those moments as character building. We do not consider that, as an hour in a university classroom could effectively influence our behavior for the rest of our lives, so can an hour among our chosen acquaintances. We waste time, hinder and tally until our most significant human interactions begin amounting to mindless activities. We contend with the forces of habit, drive ourselves deeper into surface relationships, and learn nothing about each other. As we choose to be blind to universal truths, political sciences, and human affairs, we also choose to be blind to individual truths, internal conflicts, and human natures. We are satisfied only by bread and circuses.

As a woman, I often reflect on this and sense, with rising panic, a longing for a more intricate connection with my surroundings. What is a city so full of people, yet so bereft of togetherness? What is a group of human beings, sitting so closely together, yet attuned to their Iphones, Ipads, and Macbooks? What do I really know about you, person who sits beside me every day in a crowded classroom, person who walks with me to the bus stop, person who complains incessantly about the weather? What interests you, truly, more than the weather? Where is your soul, your humanity?

In search for answers to such questions, I often find myself positioned at the center of the table: ready for dissection. I seem to think that an unreserved portrayal of myself might distract from the core distractions: it might remind people to speak to one another, to delve into one another, to dig a little. Dig a little deeper. Unfortunately, a phone may ring, a text may arrive, or a song may play that drives attention away from the girl experiencing dissection. The result is an endless sum of dismantled parts, unable to lift itself off the table, and unable to entirely sink into it. Who does she become, this dismembered woman, this art project? Who is she, missing pieces, emptied out and refilled with promises of more bread and more circuses? Distracted, bewildered, complacent.

Juvenal’s frustration with the keen human ability to turn a cold shoulder was woven into a system that encouraged sustainable silence, much like the system we live with today. His intention was to remind his audience of the details that they often miss: the truths that they bypass because they seem too complex for the average layman; too difficult to think about. Here, I break this grand frustration into a much smaller part: how can I ask my fellow citizens to raise their eyes, today, towards a broken Syria, an occupied Palestine, a forgotten Armenia, when they do not raise their eyes high enough even to look, for one moment, at each other? How should I expect of you, my friend, to carry the burden of another nation, when you do not even attempt to carry your own burden, but rather fill your life with distractions to protect yourself from reality? I cannot. I can only ask you to recognize the effects of this circus: see that you do not see, and only then will you be able to open, ponder, grow, and connect. Connect with yourself, connect with me, connect with them.


MD 11.09.2013


Work of Art

Thick, dark curls swing loose
Around deep browns and
Soft Pinks.

She turns away from her reflection,
As she begins to create
Her Self:

Line the eyes with
Blacks and silvers;
Fill the lips with
Plumping hue.

Silence the
Overbearing whispers
In the heart that knows more
Than it can hold.

Lengthen lashes,
Raise the cheekbones,
Blend the hairline,
Define the jaw.

Hum a melody
Sans lyrics,
Practice the smile that’s meant
For show.

Pull the curls and
Heat the iron;
Burn through the charms
Nature bestowed.

Erase the light bridge
Between the eyebrows;
Erase from eyes
The signs of soul.

Cushion the breasts,
Squeeze the buttocks,
Fluff the dress,
Paint the toes.

Raise the height
With crushing heels,
And wrap the package
With a bow.

Straight hair falls, lifelessly,
Around grey browns
And muted pinks.

She embraces her reflection,
As she finally sees
Her Self.

MD 16/08/2013

No, Not I.

It is not I,
Who levitates merrily through a thousand skies,
Graces the world with abundant smiles,
And unquestioningly loves you.

No, not I,
Who sinks through the ageless rocks of this Earth,
Grinds herself into a fragment of self-worth,
And religiously loves you.

No, it is not I,
Who raises healing storms through the thundering clouds,
Who ignorantly evades what this life is about,
Who gallantly curses, like an angel in doubt,

No, Not I.

I am a woman,
I shall rage with the grace within me,
I shall shelter my children like an unbending tree
I shall walk with pride of royal decree,

Yes, that is me.

I shall carry the burden of a hundred grown men,
I won’t be blinded by the roses from which the thorns stem,
My role is not florid,
I am a warrior with a pen,

I am a woman.
And I shall be.

I will be.

MD – 02/05/2011

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