By Ruth Dele-Oni

Being 19 has been an unexpected whirlwind of emotions and realizations. With all that has happened in this year of my life, immense self-reflection has been the focal point of my poems. Sorting through memories and traumas has given way to understanding of my current state, and my hopes in putting them into proses, I will be able to propel myself into a different future. Both of the following poems have a childhood component that is used to highlight innocence in the midst of pain. The struggle between the then and now show the loss of innocence and coming into reality. 


“(hard)ness” sets the tone of the internal turmoil the young child is experiencing. There is a clear separation between that child and the narrator who can assess the double life she’s living. The common thread of hiding this turmoil ties the pieces together and “(hard)ness” shows how early it begins. Feeling out of place and formulating a different world to explain reality drives the narrator to feel at ease with themselves later on. By accepting that they do not fit in, the poem ends with a fiery conclusion about society. 


The children kept asking her how she was able to

learn the multiplication tables so quickly

or how she could repeat

and repeat

the lines from the prose with such ease?

Her movements were like second nature

not really thought about

spinning the clay into life was her forte

with the commentary

she anticipated the difficulty to come

one would have thought she was a swimmer

with how long she held her breath

what they didn’t know

is that the trials laid in places unseen

in in proses unspoken

this was light work compared to her quaking inner struggle

they didn’t see the jungle gym in her stomach

or the blood-stained tears in her palms

the questionings and demons never let her rest

the hands of elders

laid on her

never in nice ways

but only to leave their marks…

many things are unseen, remember that

when walking through this hell

the readings and equations feel like nirvana

a haven so enticing

she created a home there

but even this home was raided in the middle of the night

and the chalk dust no longer gave her the same high

and the pages of the notebook went untouched

Ruth Dele-Oni is a junior at Boston University studying Health Science in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation. When she isn’t advocating for safe sex or aggressively stanning Beyoncé, she spends much of her time lost in artistic outlets. Her writing serves as a window into her soul; not worthy of many but her hopes are that maybe some will be able to relate. This is her therapy, her savior, her life. By portraying her own marginalized life in her life, Ruth plans to pursue scientific research in order to directly assist marginalized populations, specifically black queer women.