Beirut-born, Southern California-raised Armine Iknadossian is the author of United States of Love & Other Poems (2016). She has been published in Margie, Pearl, Rhino, Split This Rock, Alabama Literary Review, The Nervous Breakdown and elsewhere. Armine has an MFA in Poetry from Antioch and has worked as a teacher, as assistant editor to Arianna Huffington, Robert Scheer and Molly Ivins, and most recently as bookstore manager of Beyond Baroque, a beloved, Los Angeles literary institution. Since 2013, Armine has been a Writing Consultant for The Los Angeles Writing Project through CSULA. Find out more at armineiknadossian.com
The Hollow Women
“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow” (T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men)
We are the hollow women.
We are the stuff men leave behind.
Laden with ill-begotten parcels,
our voices crack the firmament
like spider webs. We are quite mysterious
as we digress from the conversation,
return to the table, eat off a hand-held mirror
Sit with us, and you will see our shaded
landscape of tapestries and fruit trees.
Silence has started to return the lies,
but our debt is not what we cling to.
Dismember us; we will not tell.
Night is lost, but only as the hollow women.
The stuff men leave behind.
As if I had a seat
in their free kingdom,
in their civil potential.
There, sons and daughters
climb into their father’s lap.
There, bees get stuck in sonnets,
and women are busy
winding grandfather clocks.
Near misses, near so many
Limit me, and tear
the kingdom limb from limb.
Limit me, and all is not well.
Fat, bloated, no skin, no nails
In between beheaded and dead
No tears –
No tears in their free kingdom.
This is Dad’s land,
badlands cut like diamonds
free from tongues in cheeks,
free from the suck of implication,
from the fatherly burden of proof.
I sit like this
in the free kingdom.
I sometimes walk alone at night,
arm in arm with a ghost,
bumping hips with foreign
patterns and mortal coils.
We women. We realize fear
where there is no fear.
Highs and lows.
I bequeath this ball and chain
to their kingdom.
We grew up together
on a beach void of tombs.
A multitude of lonely men
We will not sing for you.
We will not sing in the morning,
in the evening or in the afternoons.
You ask, “For whom is the kingdom?”
But we ask, “For whom is the conception?”
You have so many in-betweens,
as if we fall for falling’s sake.
But life is not as long as you think,
and your world, our world, their world
will not end in the sense you think it will,
like a starved dog or a mewling infant.
It will end when we say.