Hannah and I

Hannah and I, listening / to the cacophony of noon / while cocooned in this stillness / as the rest of the world / cycles on what is their norm. / Hannah, in her limited speech, / says, “byu” for blue. And sky, / fly, birds, eggs, clouds. / I ask her colors. She points to them: / “White!” as the birds join our whistles. / We wait for wind to answer back. / The distant cuckoos echo. It seems like the chickens want in, too. / The birds, two perched on the lamp post, / one faced east and the other, west. / Are not birds migratory until they are captured? / These ones are like old guards, / watching over us or looking out for signs, / themselves as signs: transient messengers, divine drones / circling our quiet earth here, / now. It feels like a feast is being prepared. / Trees sway in excitement, a wind song plays, / a promise is brewing for better days, beneath the ground, / a coming… Meanwhile we just listen, Hannah and I.

Noeme Grace C. Tabor-Farjani

What is the significance of this work to you?

My daughter is a child with special needs and it was one rare occasion that I was able to just “be there” with her without the thought or worry of anything—just what is going on in the present moment. It also made me realize that there are worlds within worlds, or that we can choose to create reality out of an interloping of moments, simultaneous joys and threats. I mean, it is a fact that the present moment is inevitable, but what do we make out of it? How do we see it? Are we really present? It is vital for me, as a writer, to be able to practice both literary omnipresence while staying in the self during the process. Hannah and I, our oneness and separateness, represents the world out there and the world you can create in that “cocoon” of a belief.   

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

I was aiming to capture the breathings of everything around us, including Hannah’s attempts at naming things she sees around her. At that moment, I noticed the harmonious blending of movement and stillness, the sounds we hear and the spaces in between, and even the pauses in our interactions. There’s this sweet syncopation of thought and emotions that I wanted to integrate in the piece. The person who introduced this poetic form to me was my literary mentor and fellow writer-friend who studied the prose poem’s literary tradition, from its beginnings with the Chinese fu, the Korean koryo, the Japanese haibun, the Ottoman maqāmah, the prosimetrum, and eventually, the poème en prose of the French symbolists up to the current landscape through the British-American imagessay and those outside Anglophone writings. I guess the form worked well, given the “feel” it gives me when I re-read it. I hope it works the same with others who read this. 

What was your process for creating this work?

It is after all possible to both savor silence and enjoy the presence of both nature and someone you love while preserving the moment into paper. Hannah and I was “happening” and being written at the same time. So while we were enjoying silence, while I was responding to her, I was also writing on my Jotterpad mobile app. There were pauses in between writing of course for I had to take photos, videos, talk to her, bargain with her to go inside the house, ask her to listen to sounds… The moment was so precious that the photos and videos I took of us and the sights we witnessed were not enough. I had to write down, right there and then, the meaning these things brought me or else they dissolve into plain photos and videos. I guess I was able to enter into “flow,” created by the moment itself.  It made me want to write, and when I am deep into the process of packaging the experience into a poem, I may seem lost at work but I was actually transporting myself back and forth from the actual happening, to the page waiting for “Hannah and I.” I was present in both worlds, both focused and engaged. The Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi mentioned this in his theory of Flow, the very subject of my PhD dissertation. The model contains conditions in entering the state of flow. I had a clear objective: I wanted to write about this, here and now. That was just one condition.  But I think the most important part of the process is just simply getting into the zone. Some would describe it as “zoning out” of the current reality and entering another reality. But in my case, it is just the ‘zone of recreating reality.’

Noeme Grace C. Tabor-Farjani has authored Letters from Libya, a chapbook of short memoirs which chronicled her family’s escape from the Second Libyan Civil War in 2014. A featured writer at the digital exhibits of New York-based The Aerogramme Center for Arts and Culture and England-based Floresta Magazine, her works have been published in Your Dream Journal (US), Global Poemic (India), Luna Luna (US), Fahmidan (Kuwait), 433 Magazine (US), Milly Magazine (New Zealand), Rogue Agent (US), Cicada Magazine (Hong Kong/Japan), and forthcoming in The Font: A Literary Journal for Language Teachers (Australia), Eunoia Review (Singapore), Dreich Press (Scotland), Cobra Milk (US), and Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine (Hong Kong). Her PhD dissertation focused on flow psychological theory in creative writing pedagogy. She teaches high school humanities courses in the southern Philippines and is currently working on a chapbook of poems on spirituality and the body. You can find her on Facebook