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OUR MOTHER IS A NIGHTWITCH OR AN ODE TO FEMME FRIENDSHIP

 
 

I have tried to write this poem a thousand times / and mostly it started with fire /

 

I have tried to write this poem a thousand times / and mostly it started with fire / I have fallen in love with this poem a thousand times / mostly about wildfire women / people who live in the dirt and on the moon / reckless and weightless /

 

I have tried to write this poem a thousand times / and mostly it started with fire / I have fallen in love with this poem a thousand times / mostly about wildfire women / people who live in the dirt and on the moon / reckless and weightless / I have fallen in love a thousand times / mostly with wildfire women / mostly with burning things down

 

I have fallen in love mostly with burning things down / and I still like the smell of bonfire in my hair / still like that my hair looks like fire / still like waking up with singed roots / but I have tried to write this poem a thousand times / mostly about forest fires / and it wasn’t working

 

so today the tree isn’t on fire / because the women aren’t on fire / because today the women don’t have to be on fire / (the women are always on fire but its your day and its my poem and its my tree and its our women so today the women don’t have to be on fire)

 

today the women are a tree / because we are a tree / and I like that you’re growing next to me / in tandem even though we aren’t / we never shared a womb or a bedroom / (contrary to popular belief those aren’t the same thing) / so we are not sisters of blood / except that we are:

 

see / in world war ii / they gave some girls what they always do / popsicle sticks and tissue and they said / make something if you want I guess we don’t really care anymore everybody is dying / so they made planes / embroidered them with flowers / and took to flying / 800 times a piece

 

and they did a lot of extraordinary things / but the main point is that the wings were / so flimsy and shitty they had to get so close to the Nazis / that they couldn’t speak /

 

so all the men heard was a “woosh” / like that of a broomstick / before the whole world was sick with smoke and justice / reeling

 

so they were called the night witches / so we are the daughters of night witches / of those who hold their tongues only in proximity of lighting the night / with bombs in the shadow of daffodils stitched on to canvas

 

so they were the night witches / so we are the night witches /

 

and I cannot spool up the hundreds of miles / between our bedframes / but I hear your refrain / in my exhale / your broomstick / just overhead

 

I have tried to write this poem a thousand times / and I thought it was a poem about fire / but then it was a tree / and then it was an airplane / and then it was a love letter

 
 
 

Shay Alexi is a poet and performance artist whose work lives somewhere between warrior cries, literary fairy dust, and texts from your best friend. She tells stories in an effort to cultivate joy, dismantle patriarchy, promote radical empathy, and throw a really great party. Shay's work has been featured in video form by Button Poetry, Write About Now, HomeGrown Poetry, and The Open Floor. She is the winner of the 2017 Beecher’s Poetry Prize, RiverSedge Poetry competition, and a regular illustrator and contributor for the online journal Thread. Keep up with Shay and see more of her work at www.shayalexipoetry.com