Hannah R. Lyles

Spellbound

If you look at the tread of the front wheel
long enough, you’ll either get into
a hypnotic rhythm, or you’ll cause your
premature death. How much of life

is this rhythm? We are bound by routines
like bundles of dried flowers by a string.
The gravel falls everywhere and you’ve got
no control where it lands. You never know
where the first weed in the flower bed
will show itself. But if you find out what
nutrient the earth is missing, you can
at least try to add some love beneath
your feet.

 

 

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Inevitable

You left today, drove off,
and so I ride around on my bike
looking for the rabbits and squirrels
that we saw yesterday, but there is no one
nothing for some time.

Florida tests your imagination
of apocalyptic futures like that,
it’s the emptiness, the perfect
blue sky shown at the start
of horror films, and the endless,
newly paved streets that hit dead ends
no matter how hard you try to get out.

My wheel hits the breaks in the road,
mimicking the heartbeat of the moment,
the dull thuds that fill you
when something’s just left.

The ever-growing hunger stamps itself
in my belly. Still, nothing moves,
the wind blows hard.

Today the world wants me to peddle faster
a tempting fate of concrete and
scraped knees dazzles in the sun.
It’s doing me a favor,
the sweat distracting me
from the melting parts inside.
I’m the candle already lit, and you
are the lightbulb. I burn
and spread on surfaces, staining.
You stay lit until a fuse blows,
then you upgrade.

The Three Stages of Grief in One Day

I.

How much violence do you need to see
before you put pen to paper?

How much love do you need to lose
to stay silent?

How much hope do you need to gain
to open your mouth and speak?

II.

Is it better to be
the minute hand
or the pendulum?

Always moving forward
but never going
anywhere new. Or,
forever swinging back and forth
but balanced?

Is there a better option?
Or can we never escape time?

III.

There are some days when
there is so much to say that
the army of your thoughts
scares you into silence.

Floating lilypad. Hannah Lyles.

The Importance of Roots

What sustains a lilypad
as it grows, before it breaks
the water’s surface?
Faith. Hope that it will
be touched by the sun.

A lilypad cannot rest on the water
without making the journey
from the depths; from the darkness
of the invisible bottom.

And even when it stands tall,
pad floating with the ripples
of the push and pull of tides,
the roots are firmly stuck
in the wet, muddy earth
of the lake bed.

They sing: remember the roots.
Do not celebrate the beauty of blooms
without honoring the soil’s fertility.
Our beginnings, our earthy starts,
are what bind us to this life.

Clouds

How long does a cloud live:

a short, wet fleeting life

concentrated on the burden

of letting go. Joy is saying

no more holding on, no more

water, no more dust,

no more hail, no more.

 

Does a cloud suffer from

rootlessness? The cirrus is

an airy nomad moving

like lost feathers from a pillow.

Does it get sick of being

unbearably light? A refugee

of night and day. A member

of the neverending diaspora.

 

Do clouds get lonely

floating alone

in an expanse of blue sky?

Do the cotton-ball cumulus

brothers and sisters get tired

of sharing space?

Do they yearn to touch

the earth like a lover:

gently, softly, often?

Does the fog wish for weight;

to embody, to be present

and permanent?

Do clouds know they are loved

no matter how menacing

they look?

 

Do they see more than us

and hold onto it like a tragedy

or a comedy?

Do clouds try to tell us

secrets? Do we know how

to read their wisdom

before it’s too late?

 

Do clouds spend more

of their lives looking

up or looking down?

Is it hard being in between;

the gatekeepers of the earth

and beyond?

Does this make them

want to fall into the ocean

and never get back up?

March Morning

The leaf cups my body

as if to say

I am enough.

Shielded from the sun,

I sleep in a cocoon

of green.

The memory of the mild

winter is faded like

translucent skin.

The mandarin tree is

my home within a home;

a human family live

in a dark box nearby

with openings

that are mostly closed.

Every morning

the train horn

b  l  o  w  s.

I know of this machine

because my mother transmitted

her knowledge through webbed feet:

our ancestors were born near the tracks.

How does it feel to be a lily pad

hanging above water?

Or a turtledove chick who dies

on its first flight

from the potted plant?

Or a squirrel who breaks

the first nut of summer?

The leaves extend my limbs

into the earth, but

no matter how grounded I am

the questions come like raindrops,

bursting into the hard, white buds

that will bring orange fruit.

Frog
Credit: Hannah Lyles

The Question Box

 

I, distracted

from my own unraveling,

was afraid you’d come undone with me.

I watched my own heart disintegrating

into pixels on the screen of a game.

Two-dimensional play:

You can go back but never past

the beginning where you still had

full health; a life to spare on love.

Or, forward

where there’s always an ending in sight,

the drop-off into the next level.

 

What’s in the in-between?

They say the magic happens here,

in the mess of day two,

when the monsters come out to eat.

With each step, I lost a little more

of me and you.

But, isn’t it funny that with the undoing

comes clarity, while the fabric hangs

looser and looser?

Falling apart and liberation

are two sides of the same coin.

 

 

So, I’m building a new house

with bricks found on the roadside;

the same pieces that nearly killed me

as they fell from the sky.

With my pen, I draw the outlines

of windows, the blueprints for forgiveness.

Inside, you’re a phone call away.

Inside, the blood flows a little easier;

the ink forms symbols of hope in space.

 

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Featured image credit: Ray Che (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rayche1989/5203972988)