Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles from Eden (Coffee House Press, 2019), Hurston / Wright Legacy Award winner, and The kitchen dweller’s testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), Sillerman Prize Winner. She has received scholarships from the Lannan Foundation, Cave Canem, the Michener Center, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Osman’s first short film (director), Sam Underground, profiled Sam Diaz, a teenage street musician who would become an American Idol in 2020. She was the writer for Sun of the ground, a short documentary about the intricate legacy of the Malian Emperor Mansa Musa. It was selected for inclusion in the PanAfrican Film Festival in Cannes and the New York African Film Festival. Osman’s directorial debut, The ascendants, is now streamed on THEMA. She lives in New York.
A poem from Exiles from Eden::
Don’t turn a science problem into a mutual love story.
– –Solaris (1972)
How can I fail outside and inside our home? I’m falling into our half-life.
How can I fail with my body? How do I stay alone in this half-life?
I started a ghazal about stress breaking my hope.
I need rest from your blurry eyes, my heat
what becomes objective and observable.
A friend asks, “What are you waiting for?
The straw that breaks the camel’s back? “
Maybe I am the straw.
Maybe I’m hay. I made a list of rhyming words:
Bray, Flay, Array.
They refer to farms, decaying things,
gray days, dismay.
I’ve been inconsiderate about the ad lately
of my misfortune. Maybe you can see it.
Maybe I can deviate from that and go to the wrong home
accidentally saying, “Oh! Here already? “
You know I am frayed.
You’re not trying to braid me together.
They do not notice that a cat is wiggling its hind legs.
ready to collect all my stuff
his paws over my accidental tassels.
I’ve learned how to properly sit on my hands
on the couch, mustn’t touch you.
“Sex?” You say how I asked you to make a carcass to our shelter.
I am not telling you my dreams
because you are offended in most of them.
Do you remember when I asked you to break into a building?
“Let’s have an adventure.”
I dreamed that another man would take me to a locked school.
“Let’s go,” he said. No face, his hand right behind him.
He was wearing a black peacoat.
Many men wear black wool coats. You have a.
Hell I have one. I may have guided myself.
“How long will you live this half-life?”
During a phone call, my mother asks when she is so absent
I couldn’t catch my breath.
She thought I was upset and would lose my temper on the street.
It’s months later and when we talk
She says, “I was so happy today. Does this make sense?
And here I sleep on a bed that’s older than your little sister. “
I’m not sure what’s bothering me, but my voice is going low
and I repeat myself.
I raise and lower my palate without sound.
“Good night,” we say, everyone with something unaddressed,
without calming down.
I try to remember half-lives that I learned in science rooms.
Air tight with iron, vinegar. The process of dating old bones,
old stones. Unstable nuclei, disintegration due to two or more processes.
Exponential death, exponential halving of a life.
My mom gave me something to track and solve.
I study on the Internet:
“The biological half-life of water in humans is about
7 to 14 days, although his behavior can change this. “
That makes me fall asleep in the bathtub.
In this house we escape each other.
where we find another warm body, moisture,
Sweat on our brows.
I’m looking for Doubling time, a related term,
because i hate to feel broken
Kitchens, water bowls that steam under batter:
How long will it take to double the size?
Depending on the placement of the rack, the heat of the water,
Type of bread, whether the house is damp.
This house is only damp in the bathroom
after soaking for a long time with the door closed. Or but,
in summer. But it’s winter and a long time
before our flesh can rise and get sticky
in hands, on counters, in a suitable resting place.