Three Poems by Gabriella Nolan

These three poems by Gabriella Nolan exhume the graves of her family’s intergenerational trauma. The discovered secrets, gasping for breath, give the poet advice on how best to navigate the tides of her multiple Mediterranean identities with the sails of faith…

by: Gabriella Nolan

Laundry Lines

She rolled her tongue over fingertips
Bathed in the noon sun
Submerged under the rays of children kicking laughter
As conquering soccer balls part the waves of the surging souk
She lifted a wet white shirt onto the wax laundry line

Birds in prayer lines swoop down to henna roofs
Wings spring back up, floating to the seashell clouds
Feathers fall on minarets
Dodging the breeze of the adhan

It was this time, her time
Neither the morning, nor the night
Where she belonged

Plum eyes scanned the medina swallowed by the horizon
She rolled her fingers down the wax laundry rope
Alone roaster strides to the heap of wet clothes
Its beak nuzzles for corn seeds
Between empty Tide sachets
And the cries of the caged chickens below

Head tilted back
Sun piercing eyelids
Her throat growing towards the sky
Exhales untie palm tree rooted confessions

You have dirt under your fingernails
I have it under my skin


Jasmine Veils

Veils of jasmine vine down the cement window frame
White blossoms divert the scorching afternoon sun
The cool Mediterranean winds breathe through the green leaves
Only to be detained by the balcony below
My hands covered with the smell of fried almonds and clementines
Swipe away flies from the green olives placed on the table
They say flies are the first to smell death
Their wings mutter an eulogy as they land
To pay their respect to what is grown,
Nourished by
My family’s blood
Watered by tears of suffering
Grown with the rays of sobs
Giving a purple tint to the soil
I try so hard to sweep from my house


Graves of Weeds

She buried her nails into her cheeks
Drizzling peeling henna kisses
Stain beauty marks
Molding freckles into clay
Bars of reeds lock her vision
Burns veil index fingers
Reining the ropes of lips

Finger marks congregate above graves of fate
As fists crawl through weeds
The breeze raises aloe vera leaves in prayer
Comfort snaps the Cypress shade in half
The midday sun guides the drifting dust
Greeted by mulberry stained heals
Vines of toe prints tangle with abandoned sandals
As soulless cries scrape along carved dates
Reflecting scriptures written below tear crusted zellij
The peace of roots hold your restless head
The soil embraces Her wounds
Caressing the ink of destiny,
dried before your lungs welcomed the air,
Smudged from tears of patience
Blew hovering fog that clung to your spineless book
Making time illegible as it folded with the noon sun

Nestled between chipped gravestones
Snake imprints whisper to the graveyard’s sand
Shredded skin weaves with the cemetery path recharting directions
Buttercups stretching their arms over your knees
Reflect scriptures written below tear crusted zellij

Gibraltar waves perform ghusl over faith
Morning dew covers the tombstone with salt
Weeping sage rests on Her five year old’s decomposing laughter
Sighing on your forehead wrapped in cloths of mercy
The arms of tombs push away overgrown life

Leaning against the shoulders of the kouba shrine
Her sweat sways down her dome back
To the rhythm of the candle’s shadow
Exhales from dhikr spread its wings of vowels
Waiting to mend the wounds of the next Marabout visitor
Before it is thrown up in the sky to reach the heavens

Pulling strands of raven hair wrapped around her knuckles
She remembers the blue on your lips
The blue staining your eyelids
Glistening from the waterflow preserving ayat
She remembers untying the raven’s throbbing talons
As the pearl comb glistened under the caged cockatiel’s wings
Below the light of sobs, she brushed the date hair from the south to the north
Her fingers parted the Argan fragrance
To braid, to knot raveling deeds
Tying strains to the gates of cages
Suddenly, her gaze rose in Qiyyam
To see a raven strand clutching the zellij
Rewriting the engraved dates of your sun set
Erasing death
Tears escaping the ocean’s jaws
Flee in tides
Bowing to gravestones
Breathing in the salt breeze
Raising the aloe vera leaves in prayer
Fingers clench the wilting sage
Crawling through weeds
Her rising lungs devour the dew
The raven whispers to the peeling henna
You can breathe deeper when your heart is missing


Gabriella Nolan is a Philadelphia born and raised poet. Currently, she is a Los Angeles based business consultant. When she is not stuck in Southern California traffic, you can find her either producing music, singing Flamenco classics, or sharing her poetry on her Instagram sparksofazahara_poetry.

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