Hannah Lillith Assadi's poetry is melodic and raw. It's the ocean at night illuminated by sharp veins of quiet lightning. Much like Stravinsky's moody compositions, her distinct lyricism stacks a rhythmic trance. A slow incantation, hips swaying, and dreamlike, whether drenched inchemicals, or drunk with erotic curiosity...one must wonder if Assadi's visions of angels on earth are subconscious hallucinations or a forecast for things to come.
-Sabra Embury (Read Sabra on Fog Machine here)
In my dreams, I’m boarding a plane and understand alone among all the passengers that the flight will not take us to New York but to Mars. I try to tell them it’s a government trick, that we will ascend above the clouds and through the stratosphere but they will they not listen. On the runway, I understand I will miss all of spring and beyond that, I will miss everyone forever and in the dream as we take off, I hear you telling me that before you die you wanted to leave the planet, see space, somehow someway, but you are not with me. Quick as a drug, I am on Mars, watching Earth redshift away, and I understand I will die like any desert exile longing for blue.
I wake in the night from these dreams, the windows down with the spring, a car stuck at a stoplight, beats blasting and its 3 am. The music, loud and vital, makes sure I know that the driver is horny or drunk and makes sure another thing and it’s that, I won’t get back to sleep. I stare at the streetlight and return to other springs, younger springs, wandering cemeteries, taking photos, death the romantic thing. My head won’t hush and I think of the bed on the spinning planet in the ever expanding universe and of me asking you what your work was about and how you scoffed at me as if it were an obvious thing and though that annoyed me, I loved you already. We were blueshifted, colliding. You said, I study light.
On my bed on the spinning planet hurtling through the universe, I smell ocean, and my shoes and my fluttering shirt and the shadows from the street appear larger in the dark. And if what we call dark energy is 95% of everything, then the universe is one large cemetery growing graves atop graves between city lights. A year ago, 66,000 miles and some back, we buried you. Since then, I’ve grown two grey hairs, four pounds, new jeans, three poems, but mostly days I sold to oblivion because the sunlight and the wine mixed good, quenched death such that I was any animal squinting, horny, hungry.
Nothing is so illumined as the sea cast by the full moon or the streetlight on my face when I can’t quite sleep and yet the dreams won’t quit. You studied light and shook in your sleep but I disagreed and thought your art mostly horny or drunk like the music outside my window, until you saw angels before you died. And you called the angel’s eyes diamond glittered. And you said their faces were truly haloed and you saw them in nightclubs and dark alleys and come morning and you saw them after you had snorted mounds of coke and you saw them everywhere toward the end, and the light you studied eventually took you with it because the light you saw before you died was like a redshift, disappearing you.
I don’t reach Mars but the same bird sings from 4am to 9am and so I submit to waking and walk to the closet and pull on my clothes and walk out into the day and stand beneath the tree, suddenly in bloom, and beneath the bird and let the light, fractured through the trees, swallow my face and I’m up and out and through the stratosphere where everything is still blue.
Hannah Lillith Assadi received her MFA in fiction from the Columbia University School of the Arts. She was raised in Arizona and now lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel Sonora was published in March.
Illustration by Elena Megalos