“Sound-Part 1 (Girl With Red Scarf)” by Yona Harvey

Yona Harvey


There was a girl with a red scarf, a girl with a white scarf, a girl with a pink scarf, & a girl with a scarf of pale pale blue. & when, from a corner of earth, far from where the girls were born, & far from where any of the girls then stood, their scarves unwound & snapped like ribbons or wild wild hair, it was the girl with the red scarf who stood apart from the others, though they all stood laughing wildly together. & there was talk of toads, & talk of kissing, & many gowns & much ceremony, but mostly talk for talk’s sake away from too many ears curved to listen. Though listening is what the girl with the red scarf did most, which made her from a distance seem still, though she moved with the other girls or at other times with her brothers & sisters in a queue slithering onto the school bus or into the house, which was never still. & when at particular moments her ears were full of odd instructions, & she needed to hear something across a room, she listened with the whole of her body, her eyes & skin, her hair, which was not wild but microscopically braided. Sound was God, as she understood it, always poised to listen. What does a girl with a red scarf hear? Only she knows, approaching the world from the inside in. The center of the ear: a drum. Rain on leaves. Fingers on books. On bellies. On windows. With a boy pressed against her, she attempted music, a collaborative first. An unsex. What was that sound? The naught-girl signal? Womanish gardenia opening? God is good. (Sometimes.) Fierce fragmentation, lonely tune.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009
Tribute to African American Poets


Yona Harvey: “My poems begin with predicaments; they’re not exactly problem-solving vehicles, but little spaces for thinking and imagining. I write to discover and investigate my thoughts. I write to become a better writer and to become a stronger voice for my communities. There’s something challenging and satisfying about lifelong projects—that’s how I view writing and community building. There’s always the reward of evolution and surprise.” (website)

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