art ~ spirit ~ transformation
e*lix*ir

e*lix*ir   #10
spring 2020
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Editorial

  • Pandemics, Pandemonium, and Prayer

  • Poetry

  • Poems
    by Andréana E. Lefton

  • Memoir

  • An Invisible Wave
    by Elizabeth M. Green

  • The Writing Life

  • Bodies of Water
    by Andréana E. Lefton

  • Essays

  • The Luminous Particular in the Poetry of Jane Kenyon
    by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

  • Personal Reflections on Bahá’í Texts

  • The Day-Star of Blissfulness Shineth!
    by Kathryn Barlow

  • Art

  • Paintings
    by Edward Epp

  • Comic

  • Ruhi & Riaz
    by Solmaz Haghighat

  • Voices of Iran

  • The Path of Perfection
    by Tanin Azadi

  • Looking Back on Books

  • The State of the Art: Books for Bahá’í Children, 2019
    by Allison Grover Khoury


  • ← Previous       Next →


    Skeena Valley View, acrylic on canvas, by Edward Epp, 1996

    ANDRÉANA E. LEFTON

    My Name is Lida

    I’m seventeen.

    Tall, with gold-brown eyes,
    thick black hair.

    Think of pine trees, in the mountains.

    I know what I know and
    I’m learning to listen

    even to the small noises —

    my sisters whispering
    white roses wilting —

    to the silences
    I don’t understand.


    Mohareb

    For months — no, years —
    before we left Tehran,

    rumors trailed us like feral dogs,
    mouths filled with danger.

              Mohareb

    was the word that prowled in the streets,
    snapped at our heels.

              Mohareb

    tracked us
    to the marketplace, to school every day.

              Mohareb

    my friends whispered
    behind my back when they knew
    I could still hear them.

              Infidel, enemy of God.


    Her Touch

    We leave Tehran on Mother’s Day,
    December 16, 1982.

    Some of the women on the street
    carry pink roses or white hyacinths.

    The flowers glow neon-bright
    against their black chadors.

    A large black car pulls up outside our house.
    Salimeh comes with us to the door.

    Sali, our housekeeper,
    who has become —

    over these thirty years living with us —
    an auntie, a friend.

    We can’t tell her the truth.
    We are leaving for good.

    Whose good?
    Ours, not hers.

    Guilt eats at my heartstrings,
    loosening me from Salimeh.

    The last thing she does
    is press her thumb
    to the middle of my forehead.


    Night Journey

    I.

    I’m not asleep, and I’m not awake.

    My sister, Shahnaz, plays with Mazi and Kami
    in the backseat to keep them quiet.

    Outside, Ahmad and the men jack up
    the car to change a flat tire.

    Drumbeats of rain, the whoosh of a passing truck.

    Sleepiness and thirst
    hold me, rock me, take me away from myself —

    has our car just sprouted wings?

    II.

    These midnight wings are invisible
    except for moonlight
    glancing off their enormous span.

    A few beats, just to practice, then —
    my stomach lifts and I am soaring over Iran,
    the barren land,
    silver blue, slides into blackness.

    Nothing to see except stars above and below.
    All the celestial and man-made stars
    fuse into a single light that warms me —

    wraps me like a stranger’s gift
    to the universe.


    Wilderness Sky

    Look up:

    Mountains shadow the stars
    and the sky is a huge mouth,
    devouring.

    Bodies press against my rib cage,
    the only warmth in this emptiness
    of rock and wind.

    We sit, propped
    against the biting metal sides
    of the truck.

    Icy needles jab my legs,
    which I hug to my chest,
    fearing frostbite.

    Toes ache inside my school shoes —
    black T-straps.

    I bought them last November,
    drinking mango juice
    on Valiasr Street, under an archway
    of bloodred sycamore trees.


    Attack

    Light floods our eyes.

    We stagger to our feet,
    half-sleeping.

    “GET DOWN GET DOWN GET DOWN!”
    screams the boss.

    Bullets pelt
    against metal and glass.

    Brain freezes
    then flies into action.

    We dive into the mud
    under the trucks

    dragging our bodies behind.


    My Blood Is Gone

    It disappeared
    when we reached Pakistan.
    My flow stopped.
    My clothes hang loose.
    The moon slipped
    from my stomach and rolled
    through the streets
    picking up speed
    like a spool of dark red
    forever out of reach.


    Gate of All Nations

    In my sleep, somewhere on the road
    from Tehran to Zahedan,
    I flew to the camps
    and visited refugees.

    It made me feel good,
    being the one to visit, kiss cheeks,
    and leave.

    Now, things are different.
    Now I am undocumented.
    Now I am...one of Them.

    The United Nations Gate is metal,
    heavy, locked and high.

    We stand for hours,
    waiting for papers.

    The sun climbs, pulling the sweat
    from our armpits.

    Greedy sun, bloody heat.

    The line grows and grows,
    rumors replicate, out of control.

    Our number isn’t called.

              Come back tomorrow.

    I don’t think those gates
    opened, even once.


    Based on the life story of Lida T. and her family, Bahá’ís who escaped Iran during the Revolution in the 1980s.



    Andréana E. Lefton

    Bio:   Andréana (AE) Lefton is a poet, freelance writer, traveler, and educator, currently based in Chattanooga, TN. She has lived in the Middle East, Europe, UK, and USA, and works to create spaces for healing, art, and “the inner work of justice.” She is also an instructor with Turn the Page, a creative writing program for people in jails and in recovery. Her essays and poetry have been published by On Being, Sojourners, Sufi Journal, the Journal of Bahá’í Studies, the United Nations Society of Writers, and more: www.aelefton.org.