Through Brown Eyes

Ashley Simmons
May 17, 2016

There are only five days left in this study abroad program and I am astonished at how many things I've accomplished that I never imagined I would accomplish abroad.  Spain has been home to my first hike in Sierra Nevada, the first gym I joined of my own accord, the first time I performed poetry with someone else, nerves aside (shoutouts to you, Sociology), the place where I've tried many new foods, and the place where I discovered within myself a poet not only blossoming, but flourishing, however beautifully through all of the hardships before her. It's been the place where I've gone on 9 mile hikes at capes that have nothing to do with cats whatsoever (seriously Cabo de Gata is not about a cat it's actually about a rock, agata, a type of quartz, which was then shortened to gata in the Spanish tradition of abbreviating words. Google does wonders).  Spain has been the place where I've met many amazing people who have collectively helped make this entire study abroad experience mind-blowing.  It's hard to reflect on everything that I've learned, experienced, and observed and I often find most of my observations and lessons manifesting themselves in my writing.

With that being said, here's a poem I wrote not too long ago about Granada, of the same title, that summarizes my experience here in this beyond beautiful city:



stains my fingers with the familiar
color birthed in her arils,
bleeds onto melanin
nurtured by
an almost-African sun.
from her honeycomb piths
i gently pry sweetly sour seeds of knowledge
muqarna of the Berber Dynasty
that lives on in her fruit.

they ask me where I’m from because
my tongue sounds as if it’s been here before.
Yo dije que I come from a land of desecration.
my ancestors found liberation in themselves
when it was denied to skin & breast
from café au lait to espresso bean
and the creams and sugars mingled amongst them.
they don’t understand this and ask how I know myself
y estoy perdida en las calles pero
the mountains are all around
narrow alleyways from Italian footsteps beg to cuentame la historia
sobre un tiempo it holds close.
secrets live in each building
in strong eleventh century walls; rooms for queens
tell tales of times ancient souls have seen

you and I, we dance in and out
of tapas bars with sangria on puckered plump lips
in and out of arms and amor
snuck into conversations like liquor in your coffee
the loud stomp and clap of the Flamenco above my head
clicks rhythms in my ears
& she cracks open the precious fruit
the splitting of a skull
the breaking wide open of a heart
making space for a familiar mind
catches sight of the girl-to-woman in the mirror
on the back of the taracea
& there’s passion in the stiffness of your body
but you only show me when the sun sets

the first time i ate a pomegranate it was
to soothe the ache in my throat.
i stand in my first home,
barefoot on cool marble of a cocina
where i baked love into your daily bread.
juice drips from my fingertips.
i cradle a handful of promises
ruby red translucence
and bring them to my lips
press into my mouth
to soothe the ache in my soul
crush them with my teeth
& swallow them whole.

i am in my second home,
i walk cold alongside the river running dry
in a grassless land
somehow full of life
we’re standing where Boabdil stood
taking it in inhales, tearless mujer,
no pasa nada coursing through good veins
¿quieres dar un paseo conmigo? and the time is flying
lost somewhere in those six hours
from the home I was born in
to the one I found.

- Ashley Mae

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Ashley Simmons

Ashley is the 2015-16 IES Abroad Blogger of the Year! A Junior at Brandeis University, Ashley studies English, Creative Writing, Film, Television, and Interactive Media, as well as Creativity, The Arts and Social Transformation. On campus Ashley is an English Undergraduate Departmental Representative. Originally from Washington D.C., she enjoys cooking, reading, playing the piano, playing video games, and being with her family and friends.

2016 Spring
Home University:
Brandeis University
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