Courtesy of Olivia Torain
  1. A Meeting in May
  2. Lemons Always Keep Us Cool
  3. They Call Me Ida B. Wells
  4. The Regal Theater
  5. Bronzeville Sisyphus
  6. Anita Jumps the Red Lines

Underneath the heavy May sun,
Birds drowsily lay on the air currents,
Old buildings sagged against each other for support,
Weighted feet beat on the sidewalk,
And the paper in front of me seemed to weigh down on the weak table
As if it were freshly cut from the tree.
The pen seemed far away at that moment,
Just as much as the idea.
My mind was nowhere to be found,
And my heart, although heavy,
didn’t make a sound.
Eyes scanning heavily over the blank page,
It was easy for me to miss
the clouds shuffling above,
An old pipe bursting below,
the previously steaming cup of coffee in front,
And the hushed voices of those with loaded minds in back.
So easy.
Weight kept my lids heavy,
So when weightlessness rushed through the hefty door,
Airy curls wrapped around a head,
a chiffon dress wrapped perfectly around a balanced structure,
And a sepia bag bouncing at the hip,
My eyes didn’t know where to look.
Flowing to the rough countertop,
She filled the vacant cafe,
With a new air that took up wherever the heaviness was.
Good morning, can I have a black coffee? Two cream and three sugars.
Her head tilted lightly,
The smile,
not visible to me but exists nonetheless from the small of her back.
Sure. And can I have the name for your order?
The air shifted and a heavily light voice rang out,
Ah yes, you can put down Margaret—Magaret Walker.
My eyes widened even more as I stared at the woman at the counter,
With light steps, her eyes followed every line of the cafe,
Till they found mine.
A small squint and nod passed on her face, heavy with light.
I think I smiled back,
But the blank page in front of me was enough to capture my attention once again.
With a heavy sigh,
I looked out at the flattened landscape,
Much like a little architect,
Lacking a blueprint or even the weight of an idea.
So light.
I felt the touch before it landed on my slouched shoulder.
Excuse me?
Turning slowly, my eyes touched hers once again.
Looking out at the vast landscape,
A clear and bright glint covered her face.
Apologies. I couldn’t help but notice one of my own.
Taking a seat across from me,
The clouds, as if on cue, separated–
Letting in the golden light that illuminated the vacant cafe.
Blinking, I looked down at the sheet
Feeling the heavy gaze from the opposite side.
So, you seem to be having some mind troubles?
I watched as the long sepia bag came to a soft rest on the table,
Despite the many papers inside.
And then it was that gaze again.
Solid, yet malleable.
All-knowing, yet curious.
Sure, yet cautious.
Always the student before the teacher,
She leaned forward lightly,
Studying the land and its fertility.
Attempting to fill up the space,
With a heavy tongue I said,
It’s a personal assignment.
I’m listening.
I´ve been trying to write something for days, but no idea seems to stick.
Leaning back in the rickety seat,
She seemed to ponder my answer along with the twirling motions of her pencil.
Let me tell you something–there’s a difference between writing about something and living through it, I´ve done both. When searching for things to write, seek out the human condition–
The one in everyone else and the one in you.
Speechless, I watched the woman in front of me in awe.
She simply smiled.
A slightly lopsided thing, that made me return it.
The air grew heavy with something delicate,
Till suddenly a sapling sprouted from a small place in the dirt,
And the pen, nor the idea seemed as far away as it did a couple minutes ago.
Peering at her watch,
I watched her eyes widen deliberately.
Oh, I best be on my way–this mail won’t mail itself.
Stuffing the documents back into her bag,
Weightlessness stood,
Pushing the noisy chair back, without noise.
And letting a light glance fall on me once again before heading–
Wait  wait !
Turning on her heels, the woman stood near the exit,
A questioning look on her face.
Realizing that my breath grew shallower,
I grabbed the pile of documents left on the table.
You seem to have forgotten this miss
And yet again, that smile returned.
Clutching her bag and with squinted eyes,
And the weight of light at her back,
Margaret Walker dipped her chin,
Sending her curls in slight disarray and said to me
I don´t believe I have.
And was out the hefty door, as swiftly–like a breath of air–as she had entered.
I sat down.
Looking at the documents,
Heavy in my hands I saw what seemed to be an early edition of a book,
Native Son,
By Richard Wright.
I smiled.
The landscape was up and alive around me yet again.
Only this time,
There was an idea.
Gazing at my little sapling,
In its little–practically insignificant–patch of dirt,
I picked up my pen,
And my heart,
Stretched and wide,
Poured out, along with my mind.
On the blank sheet,
Reminded of the woman I met in the coffee shop that day.
I wrote out my first line as,
A Meeting in May.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Olivia Torain is in 11th Grade at Kenwood Academy.


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