I wanted to be dazzling,

like Venus in the late June sky,

glittering gold in the evening,

named after beauty personified—

and now I am twenty-five

and all the things in the poems make sense

and all the songs too

and everyone just gets better and better

at lying

including myself,

so good, I don’t even know

when I am telling the truth


© Alexandra Jema

witching hour

there is this bruha who lives inside of me—this child with stringy, tangled hair and teeth filed into points. she casts spells to send me back in time, trapping me in dreams of the past. I wake up and tumble into the next dream, and when I leave my bed I am not really sure if I am in the right universe. I feel like I have been in this ribcage before, bent over, heavy hot, tired of life. like this is the curse: this is the price paid for cheap quick magic, all the lipstick. no matter what I do I don’t think I could ever get rid of envy’s wicked fingers, always around my throat, choking me when you look at other women. something in me screams, don’t you know what I do to look this good? you could probably see the wild underneath the painted fingernails. the lipstick doesn’t fool anyone but it’s my favourite trick when it does.

© Alexandra Jema

girl, divine

Sometimes I will talk to women who start to argue with me for no reason. Then I feel it in the pit of my stomach – they are looking at my liquid lipstick and sharp eyeliner, the clothes that drape from my body, and I feel my age. I swallow my youth like a gulp of coffee in the mornings. Being beautiful is just as hard as being ugly but you can’t make the same complaints. If you’re beautiful you just cannot complain at all or else it’s frivolous. I wear my youth when I walk in the centretown streets; I see women clinging to the last of theirs, terrified of becoming a sexless old hag. In a week I will be 24, a woman, immortal, a goddess. Under my arms there is room for everyone but not everyone wants it. And I will not be fearful of growing older, because I have many sisters who know this is not the worst thing in the world.


© Alexandra Jema