Nora Cornell- Poetry


a child as a temptress,
she lives in a garden with invisible walls
she craved what was always just out of reach,
and the saccharine fruit left her mouth sticky at the edges. how was she to know she’d toed the line;
who was she to be a willful delinquent?
pointing fingers get caught in traps of lies,
but pretty pointed nails get farther.
she was mature for her age, said the serpent.
it felt like she was asking for it.



nora is a package that fits in my palm;
the ribbon that binds it leaves no loose ends,
no confusion about my origins.
i am cornell from my mother, and
no one will guess that nora is jewish,
(says my father on the first day of high school).
nora is honor,
it is walking in with head held high,
imagining cardigan as breastplate
and topknot as helmet.
nora is light,
it is sunny-cold afternoons with friends,
running around the beach without jackets
and taking photos with golden halos.
nora is unprecedented,
the grafted branch on my family tree
which reaches high in the air but miles underground;
the rest of my name is history; it is a grounded framework told through anecdotes and remembered in passing.
see, i am not only nora.
i am rachel for shelly, and לאה for leah,
for each pencil tip that i have snapped,
for each notebook page that i have ripped,
for each dog-eared book on my shelves,
there is a separate manifestation of myself.


The Ending & The Girl

no one thought to ask the girl –
she is young, and pretty, and the naive flower in the forest,
so she stays quiet, unquestioned and uninteresting.
or dead, depending on the ending.
no one thought to ask the girl –
if she felt scared or brave or kind,
if she felt used or empowered,
if it was dark inside the wolf,
or if his great big eyes left any light.
no one thought to ask the girl –
red-gold colorblind and dazed with sleep,
mothers were spinning and fathers had axes shaped like broken bottles, so she wanders from church to pond to graveyard
and wonders why there are no names on the headstones.
authors have dug through every piece of dirt,
turned every stone and left no story alone.
they speculate to no one and shake their dice
until a new interpretation appears.
but in each article, in every think-piece and editorial,
in all the narratives that have begged to be built,
the girl is left alone, small and cloaked and dead,
depending on the ending.

About the contributor

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