The Unforgotten Canvas Hates Me The Most

The Unforgotten Canvas Hates Me The Most

By: Imani Williams


Part I. The Unforgotten


When I was young, I believed in a certain superstition,

a fairy tale that kept my mind at ease.

If one traced a word upon the palm of their right hand,

that word will never be forgotten.


And thus, my little fantasy became truth,

for I followed that tradition every day.

Every word seemed to make my brain bigger and smarter.

I loved that feeling.

To this day, there are five beautiful words that I hold dear to my heart.


I was nine when I wrote the word labyrinth on my palm.

I lost  myself in a rose bush garden. To my small and frail body, the garden looked like a maze

It reminded me of the rose bushes in Alice in Wonderland, only this was no wonderland.

I felt trapped in between rose and thorn,

between life and death,

between empathy and sloth,

between pride and shame.

Even now, we are all trapped, swinging on a pendulum from one to the other.

Back then I couldn’t understand why such opposites exist in our lives.

We can’t have rose without thorn, we can’t have life without death,

we can show empathy without sloth, we can’t have pride without shame.

But why? On the spectrum, they are so far apart from each other.

Such concepts might as well be on either sides of the galaxy.

And my heart will always be lost, sifting through every corner of this Labyrinth,

in search of answers I may never find.


I was eleven when I wrote the word resplendence on my palm.

My mother used it to describe God,

but I found use for the word in other things,

things like nature. The trees that withstand cold winters for as long as they can,

and flourish within the spring.

“Resplendence means something dazzling in appearance, something splendid.

What is so dazzling about a blasted tree?”

I forgive and pity the woman and her ignorance,

for she does not see the world I see.

If she did, she would not take a single sunrise for granted,

If she did, every howling wind would be her friend,

If she did, her daily routine would make her sick,

and she would yearn for a different horizon,

for a new and brighter sun.


I was eighteen when I wrote the word forbearance on my palm.

I was an impatient young woman, dwindling at the edge of my adolescence,

thrashing and kicking for any sense of fruitful adulthood. But naturally

I was held back by the elders of a thousand years.

Their world is a world of chain linked fences and concrete streets of black white and grey,

But I thirst for color, I thirst for life.

And I grew sick of my mother dragging me backwards in time,

while the other grandfather clocks swayed in motion with her.

My thirst for color rang true, so much so that the back of her hand struck me for the first time,

But with all the strength I can summon,

I hung my head down, and surrendered.


I was twenty two when I wrote the world ephemeral on my palm.

And I would never forget that moment, lying by her bedside.

That same mother I’ve hated for so long, I begged her to breathe.

It’s quite ironic, I told her she was living in such old ice ages,

and yet ephemeral means short-lived.

Yes, she lived too short.

I wanted her to witness so much of my life. I’m too young to be alone in the world.

I took her motherhood for granted. And I regret that so very much.

And throughout the years of her raising me higher, I learned nothing from her.

I resisted learning from her. I regret that as well.

Now that I’m older and alone,

now that I have a grasp of adulthood at the expense of my own mother’s pride,

Who am I?

What am I to do with my life?

Who was this woman to me, really?

Have I ever known her at all?


But though those events were never forgotten, they still only remained in the past.

And now here I stand, under the leaves letting go of life,

under weeping branches,

under the sun that seeped in through the spaces and cracks. I look at a new mysterious woman now,

not knowing that this very encounter would change my life forever.

But there was a small touching feeling arising within my being,

a beautiful shining light I sense hovering on the edges of the horizon.

It is in this moment’s heat, that my finger writes upon my palm,

the most graceful and remarkable word of them all,



Part II: Canvas


When she lays beside me,

her body bare and glowing in between twilight glimmers and figures,

I like to count her tattoos. Her parents say “Your body is a temple”

and she boasts “May my body be a canvas for my paintbrush alone.”

There are a few painted on her ivory skin.

On this day, I count six.


The first is a snake on her belly,

with it’s body forming circles around her belly button,

and the fangs are carved against her rib cage.

“I like the way they slither slowly, and ever so quietly.

Their sudden movements appear even more frightening that way.”

She claimed she saw one

sliding through the basilica,

but no one else saw it.

No one believed her.

And when the snake feasted upon blood and flesh,

there was no one left.


The second is fire,

drawn upon her left palm.

If you look at it closely

you can almost see life burning forth through her hand.

“Fire is alive too.

It feeds off of everything, even emotions.”

She claimed that she kept a pet fire in her room.

Every time she lit her candle

it came out to play.

And she would feed her fire,

keep it healthy,

by writing secrets on paper

and letting it burn to fire food.


The third is a flush of birds

flying up the heights of her shoulder blades.

And when she stretched her back,

they would fly,

their bodies would lean and swooop.

“I envie birds,

their feet never have to stay on the ground.”

She claimed that the birds were sons of angels,

and they were granted the right to fly between realms.

They roam the earth and the heavens,

and the sky is the boundary in between.

And she hated them so, for their lovely wings.

What a jealous girl she was.


The fourth is a willow tree

sprouting from her chest and curling around her neck.

“Willow trees are friends,

they feel pain too.”

She claimed that the tree knew her best,

and it covers her with cool shady arms.

When she awakens with her head on the tree trunk,

the branches hang down,

greeting her good morning.


The fifth is an owl

embedded on her left thigh,

but the eyes are not ink.

They are her own,

eyes carved on her perfect skin

inches below the treasure chest of her anatomy.

A reminder that her white pearls were stolen

by pirates and thieves thrashing their tobacco sticks of ash and flame.

“We all inflict pain on others unintentionally,

but I know more than most that

it’s completely unforgivable when one does it on purpose.”

She claimed that although those eyes remind her of pain,

she would never wash them away with her sins.

With her paintbrush

she was able to color a beautiful owl,

making those scars useful,

With her pain, she created beauty,

and it is this owl that reminded her of her strength.


The last is a quote she loves,

and it’s written in her heart,

a place only my eyes can see.

I want to feel that inspirational eclipse,

that creative and emotional collision,

everyday for the rest of my life.  

I told her this a long time ago,

when we first met under the leaves letting go of life,

under weeping branches,

under the sun that seeped in through the spaces and cracks.

My fingers trace the tattoo.

I caress the letters gently

admiring the phrase from my corner of the world.

“I remember when you told me this,

and from that moment on,

I never looked at you the same again…

I never looked at anything the same again…”


Part III. Hates Me the Most


She had an odd and beautiful fascination

with bridges

that stretched over miles of water bodies.

The higher the bridge,

the deeper the sea,

the better,


She told me that before our paths intertwined,

before her eyes met mine for the first time,

it was this water that stole her heart.

It was the seductive idea

of jumping down from the highest bridge,

and flying downward

into the calming blue.


What would happen to me? She wondered.

Would I swim? Will a gently float up

with my back to the sea bottom

and my face to the sun?

Will the current whisk me away to the pages of famous stories and histories?

Pages and lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald?

Edgar Allen Poe?

The Arabian Nights?

Will I be carried into nothingness,

forgotten like the rain of yesterday’s morning?

Or is my heart heavy enough to sink me altogether?


She was pleased by every single one of these notions,

simply because she would escape from the wrongs of this world.

To live among such twisted people is too much of a burden,

the eyes on her thighs refuse to let her forget that.

And they will always be there, no matter what sort of cloth covered her,

no matter how much powder and paint she smothers it with,

those eyes will always be there haunting her body and soul.


But it was a reminder of a lesson she has learned long ago,

Love will never hold her.

All she ever wanted was love

in a place where love is supposed to be commonplace,

but love never touched her window pane,

love never dared to ring her doorbell,

love never reached the gates of her heart.

She was greeted with hatred,

long suffering, pain, and anger.

Those sickening emotions were the only benefactors,

the only ones that caressed her and showed affection.


How unfair. Maybe that’s why

my heart broke for her time and time again.

Even in the very bitter end, my love wasn’t enough.

She hated me.


So she left me for bridges, searching for herself.

The higher the bridge, the deeper the sea, the better.

And when she found the bridge that set her free,

I was not a part of that freedom.


She was an egotistical girl,

and above everything else on this planet,

she absolutely hated being pitied by others.

I lied to myself over and over, convincing myself that I loved her,

but in actuality, I just felt sorry for her.

I gave her love because she deserved it,

not because I wanted to.

She never forgave me for that.


Perhaps it wasn’t the world she was freeing herself from,

Perhaps the real freedom was from me,

my abundance in artificial affection,

and my lack of true love.


Yes, I understand now… I am what she hated most.


This poem is about: 
Our world


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