COLLEGE FEMINISMS: The Country Within – The Feminist Wire


By Sa Fa


“Middle Passage”


this is the middle.
a place i prefer to call the middle rather than the end.
even though, here, we are closer to the end than to the beginning.

it is past the place where we have lost and where we have found.
where we have shared some words and swallowed others.

the place where the rains have come and gone
and where the sun is still not shining.

it is here that i can start to imagine the finish line.
it looks like you turning away.
it looks like me closing the door.
it is full of noise.
of dynamic motion,
of elevated emotion.

this is the middle.
this is the place where i speak back to my thoughts.
where i tune into silence.
where i drop the pen.
where i save the ink.
where i put away the paper.

it’s been real i said. it’s been real you said.
i’ll take the train you said. i’ll bike i said.
goodbye we said.

this is the middle.
i am here often.
i am here in many cities.
sometimes people walk by me.
sometimes i walk by people.

sometimes i smile and i am happy.
sometimes i smile and i am nervous.
sometimes i smile and i am scared.

sometimes i smile and i ask myself why?
i grew up in places where you had to cover yourself.
you had to veil.
you had to speak one thing and feel another.

this is the middle.
this is the place i didn’t see coming.
this is the place where we roll down hills.
where we roll away.

today i memorize what is in front of me and accept that it is fading.
my skin will hold it even though my presence can’t.
this is where i hold you.
this is where we part.
this is where you look but you don’t ask.
this is where bilingualism comes in handy.
where the windows open and the doors close.
where people stop knocking.
where people walk past.

this is not where we started.
this is not what we imagined.
this is what it is.

this is the middle.
as long as i keep calling it that.
i’ll see you soon.
i’ll see you again.
i’ll see you.
i. see. you.

this is not the end.
this is not the middle.
i don’t know.
but i can guess.
i think i’ve been here before.




“Smoke Blows”


smoke blows.
you are not there.
it never becomes night in this city anymore.
there are shadows but they play with the light.
you have stopped playing. you have stopped breathing.

smoke blows.
you crunch your shoulders, moving them from your back body to the front.
much later you remember to lean back.
you play with the dice.
one die, two dice.
you drop three of them then hit your head on the chair as you try to pick them up.
you laugh out and curse in.

smoke blows.
six hours pass.
they close.
you walk out.
it is still light out.
there is a point it leads to.
but you are not biking in that direction.
you find a road and you take it.
there is one shop that is open.
you go in.
at first it is warm.
soon men walk in.
men walk in.

smoke blows.
you smell it on your shirt, in your hair.
men walk in.
one of them starts talking.
he is short. he is bald.
he laughs, you freeze.
you have been here before.
you don’t want to be here anymore.
you remember.

smoke blows.
they ask you if you are ok and you nod.
you notice the fading sign on the window.
it says “your reality is just a proposition.”
you can’t use your hands, they are dirty.
you can’t use your eyes to connect.
you stare at the neon lights on the ceiling.
you let go of your body.
you leave you.
for a split second you wonder: is this what shock is?

smoke blows.
you trace back to other short men, to other bald men.
to other moments where you had to leave you.
you want to walk out.
they ask you to finish first.
they look at you.
the way he looked at you.
same skin, same look.
arrows thrown.

smoke blows.
you wonder: is there a heart there?
i can’t imagine.
you stopped me from imagining.
smoke blows.
you walk out.
you need to clean yourself.


you are home.
you walk in.
you close the door softly.
it follows you.
you drink water.
you pour milk.
you open cookies.
you stare. you bite.
you swallow. you don’t taste.
it sits in you. you wonder: what am i not feeling?
you stop. it moves.

you open your laptop and write.
it follows you.
you remember the smoke blowing.
one word. two words.
you remember.
it has always followed you.

you write it.
it grows. it is big.
it still smells like smoke.
you feel sick.
it is on your skin. it is in your hair.
it has followed you.

you write.
you wonder: will this drown me?
will this bury me?
you consider sadness. you consider anger.
you consider being twenty four and being shut down and
being ruined as a kid and
having your sexuality smothered.
it follows you.

you follow it.
you lose control.
words suggest this.
you take back your words.
you write.

you close the laptop.
you fold yourself into a fetal pose.
you hold your eyes shut tight.
smoke blows.
it has followed you.
you get up.
it is now thirty minutes after you walked in.
it is now 3:20 a.m.

the light is pushing back the shadows in the sky.
you are up.
you go to the bathroom.
you shower under hot water. hotter water. burning water. you burn.
you remember the article you read yesterday:
clean your energy. clean your body. clean your room.
you feel yourself burn.
you wonder: who knows what i can do with this?
my sister? she has been through this too but she is out of touch.
my mother?
another thought comes.
you wonder if you can call him a friend. ask him to help you as a friend. tell him?

you get out.
you walk to your room.
it is only you now.
it still smells like smoke.
you take your jacket and your clothes and your bed sheets and your pillow covers
and you wrap them under a big towel and put them in the laundry bag.
you close it.
you shut out the smell.
you breathe.


Safa_Shahkhalili-20140428_064119Sa Fa is a twenty four year old poet who writes about life lived in seven different countries. She weaves personal trauma and triumph with global conversations about navigating multiple identities and dealing with the consequences of the choices we make as we grow further into ourselves and into one another. Her poetry has been published by Rooted In Magazine and Bluestockings Magazine.