Tag Archives: Columbia University

Ode to the Republic by Crystal Foretia

How strange is it?
That I’ve known you all my life,
and yet I’ve never met you—

A world so foreign, yet so close to my own

because I see you,
when my eyes spot
green, red, and yellow stripes dangling 
    off the Toyota’s rearview
black warrior masks across 
    from my grandfather in grayscale.

Because I touch you,
when my fingers graze
the dashikis my brother wore
    before T’Challa made them cool
a crimson gele my mother designed
    to crown herself queen, before the photographer.

Because I taste you,
when my tongue melts under
fufu and eru soup
soft as mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table
plantains and puff puff
childhood fried to golden brown.

Because I hear you,
when my ears catch
AfroBeats played at graduation parties
    now featuring Akon and Beyoncé
Pidgin that Grandma whispers,
    from the corner of Nigeria and Chad.

Between lost plans and sepia-tone stories
I wonder how it would feel

to hug family I never knew,

to cross villages I only dreamt of,

to reach a home away from home

to bridge the gulf between 

“African”       and       “American”

Crystal Foretia is a sophomore studying Political Science and History at Columbia University and daughter of Cameroonian immigrants. Her poetry was first published in Surgam, the literary magazine of Columbia’s Philolexian Society. Ms. Foretia serves as Online Editor for Columbia Undergraduate Law Review and Lead Activist for Columbia University Democrats.

a modern sonnet by Cleopatra Lim

i know that it is okay because i said yes but it should mean
that i don’t have to feel like a suckling pig before slaughter
and i did this, i think, to feel like an adult now that i’m eighteen
but i went too far– i go too far– ten bucks that he has a daughter

somehow i can see myself in an hour, picking the curly aged hairs he shed
off polka-dotted sheets that laid witness to my first lunar blood
and soon he’ll unlock my beloved chest, spill jewels of cherry-red–
hindsight says once a flower blooms, it’ll never again be a bud

but reason and rationale are always late and the party don’t start
til they walk in and see me: emptied and filled with cheap wine
and tears… they said when it happened, i would feel in my heart
completed, perfected, and his gaze would be sugary sunshine….

instead the bed shakes and i am seasick until the north star, i can mark.
he tries to see me but he can’t. i am with the stars that glow in the dark.

Cleopatra Lim is a student currently attending Columbia University. She most enjoys writing prose poetry and personal essays, and has been published in some smaller literary journals. She currently works in NYC as a marketing assistant and a junior agent at a talent agency. In the future, she hopes to be able to work with both film and writing, working to incorporate poetry on to the big screen.