Poetically Yours - Ep. 26 - Photo-inspired Poem

Jan 29, 2021

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poets from northern Illinois. This week's poem is by Cheryl Sheinman. 

Poet Cheryl Sheinman.
Credit Provided by Cheryl Sheinman.

Sheinman is a teacher and dialogue facilitator. Being a graduate of Jungian and archetypal psychology, she writes about bringing consciousness to our social landscape via pieces on voice, justice, trauma, death and dying, gun violence and authentic dialogue.

She enjoys tennis, swimming, snow skiing, art, literature, design and fashion. Sheinman said she appreciates nature and the flora and fauna of the Forest City. A recent transplant from Miami, Florida to Rockford, she survived the Illinois winter of 2019, learning to move like a penguin on the ice!

Her poem "Indictment – Refugee Eyes" was inspired by a 1984 National Geographic acclaimed cover photo of an Afghan refugee woman.

Her wide eyes stare back at me

Terrified, determined, in rage

A glimmering gorgeous green

The color of emeralds, excavated

Dug up from the mines of horror.

A small stone in the center

Black pupils piercing my own

Telling me I’m guilty

I’m wrong, I did nothing

To salve her pain

And that of her sisters.

Her eyes know something

Her mouth shut

Unspeakable is about to

Or has happened

Her life hangs

on a gossamer thread.

The soft burnt

Rust fabric of her

Headscarf. The tan suede of her young skin.

The midpoint of her upper

Lip a perfect V

All frame the story

In her fierce emerald eyes.

She’s been raped, resettled

She’s on the run

Her body shamed, disappeared

No longer hers.

Anyone reflected in her angry eyes

Is culpable, collusive

Guilty of silence.

She’s the refugee

In all of us

women.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.