Paper Ribbons


You weren’t here when I took my seat
and laid pen to paper
so you couldn’t have watched me lean
into that sinuous pose
remove my head to get a better view
of those hidden thoughts

Twisted paper ribbons decorate this space
I wear smudges like jewels
a stack of worlds to my left you are present
in all and none–your choice

Last night I bound myself in leather
honored my own story
words on the ribbon papers rustled
I left the window open
in case you came looking for me
after I slipped into dreams

I woke alone, ripped out the threads
freed myself, head back off
I thought you might catch me peering
into my own midnight

No need to clothe myself on the page
except in metaphor
Remember how I lay bare with you?
Remember my skin when inked?
The snake that stalks my spine whispers
paper promises but

You aren’t here and the light has grayed
I’m snatching out the candles
my characters see by; I’m left blind
night has pooled in my eyes
I am restless in the darkness
sewn again into my leathers

I breathed all day at my desk
it is time to quiet
you are still not here and my to do list
flutters long in the evening breeze

You have not come to find me reassembled
stitched and waiting
the hard-to-reach memories back in their places
hands washed clean of my work

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

Discussion about this post

  1. […] Paper Ribbons.Writing this was a lot of fun. A poem based on the writer’s relationship with the muse, and one that ultimately determined the look of my business cards. […]

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