Persona July, 4th 2019 by

When We Were Children - By Mara Lemanis

When We Were Children

When we were children

we weren’t tall enough

in height or mind

to track the world’s direction;

our algorithms didn’t add up

we kept no ledgers

balancing good and bad

we only knew the difference

by the scent of toast

that seeped through skin

warmed by the sun

or by the sting of wind

across hard snow where

feet grew numb

when we sought shelter

from the bullets

in our father’s voice.

We were short on numbers

short on names

but knew the secret of the sky;

we knew the sun

could hide inside its vault

and that a cloud

could slice the moon–

we watched it mend

loom pale, then bold;

we touched the bark of trees

and smoothed the calluses

that sealed their wounds;

we knew that pores

in brick and stone

exhaled at night

sounds, secret flavors

they inhaled all day;

saw how bees, birds, squirrels

kept a contract with the earth

that made men covet it

for their exclusive realm.

Our mothers swept

shook dust and soil

back into earth

and made our home

a clean, well-lighted realm

where we could grow up

members in a public sphere.

Our minds grew tall

our thoughts unearthed

we chanted names and numbers

we learned to stamp our value

on certificates, tokens, coins;

we were no longer children

we were dismembered

from the secret of our life.

–Mara Lemanis




Mara Lemanis

Biography: Mara Lemanis is a literary scholar. Her essays have been selected for 20th CENTURY LITERARY CRITICISM

and are included in undergraduate student textbooks in the U.S.

She has worked as an archivist for Historical Preservation and with the IRC, assisting refugees in Oakland, California. 

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest article are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Marbella Marbella website. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with the author.


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