person Hannah V. Norman, four poems

Hannah V. Norman is a student and poet whose work has appeared in Rattle and Charleston Style and Design.



Clutch in your mouth the moment of still before the choir sings
The lull in the air on a humid day
The pregnant pause as everyone waits for someone
To fill the void
But no one speaks
A dusk where the lights are on
And the house is silent
The veranda is warm
And the old rocking chair
Creaks soundlessly.
Clasp in your hands
The note you wrote to your future self
And the letter that is a prayer
That you never mailed
The sight the water made when
A golden shaft of light pierced its soul
And the time you knelt on the floor
And tasted sea-salt and copper
And your knees ached when you stood.
Remember someone told you
You don’t remember who
-Maybe the philosophy teacher
Who wore cut-offs and
would only write with 4B pencils
Maybe the lady next door
Who smoked too much
And had a maltese-
That no one had a future
Because, they said
It was a fatalistic phrase
“Had” denoted the path was certain
Which would make striving hopeless
And you nodded – or laughed-
You don’t quite remember.
Hold these tight
And sit in the shade of the kikayon-
Can you tell your right hand from your left?


graveyard for a flightless bird

i picked up the broken form / the thin flute of the beak / the feathers made beautiful / crimson soaked over damp grey / mouth open / in a lost cry / for help or mercy or saying / live and let live / and the ribbons of flesh
/ heaved still / over moon pale arcs / of bone / the arcs / of my fingers/ trembled under its / weight / / i poured water / down its pale rose gullet / and it came back/ scarlet /on my bloodstained hands / and i buried it / in a
patch of dirt / but too far / I later thought / from the sky / so I clawed at the tomb / and brought up its bones / and I scattered / the ivory pillars / into the trees / and the sunlight caught / their fragile sharpness / like

when i laid the urn / in the hole in the backyard / you wanted to be cremated / but why buried ? / isn’t the point to choose / flame over ground / escape the damp / i stepped on a / slender sliver of bone / shattered / “you shouldn’t leave toothpicks here” / they said / and picked up fragments / that for years / had rested / in the shade of the oak / and i mutely watched / and laid you in the earth / and I hope you don’t mind / that you shared your grave / with toothpicks / of a bird / maybe / it can teach you / flight


grease fires and migration

words don’t slip off my tongue the way they should
as if greased, uncontainable, rushing forth in a torrent of oil
that needs only a spark to set it off
burn it down, start over
my words are a bird with a broken wing in fall
everyone else seems to know
the path foreordained
traced by the fathers of our fathers’
wing beats
i flit from tree to ground
and there our paths differ
they move on
the v advancing through its set course
but someone sees the stragglers
and “takes mercy on them”
shuts them in a cage
clips their wings
feeds them pellets that
taste like the rock they were trying to escape
and they say sing, pretty bird
and wonder why it cannot speak
why it never could



fold swaths of pale blue
into flight
gild the tips of its wings
the fragile bones
and rest it in the closed
palm of your hand
as if it can soar
when you open your fist
formed from living bark
spread thin
like butter
so it scrapes
and grinds when it falls
from your hand
(a speck of blue mist
on the ground)


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