The feeling begins when a certain thought creeps into your mind. 

It’s a pleasant thought which makes you smile uncontrollably. You can’t help yourself as a smile stretches across your face from ear to ear. You haven’t smiled like this in a while, so it aches. Your cheeks hurt, but the smile won’t leave you. 

Then the feeling starts to grow on you, within you. It crawls down your throat, leaving a tickle as its trace. It crawls towards your chest. As its touch is felt, it leaves a warmth which spreads all throughout your body.

Nothing else really matters in that moment.

Shayla Hickerson
18 September 2015

De Beauvoir and the Other

And now! For a little philosophy… This piece is influenced by Simone de Beauvoir’s works explaining that the identity of women is defined in reflection to man. Basically, in short, similarly to how the cold is known in the absence of warmth, the female is known in comparison to what man is not. The male is the Self, and the respective feminine counterpart is the Other. Thus, in continuation of my exploration of my female identity, I present to you:

You were Adam and I was an Eves-drop,

Hanging on the edge of a sense of home.

I was given a role to perform;

Objectified by society and deemed useful for a few things…

In a place called home.

It’s supposed to be my comfort zone,

My safe place,

A safe haven.

But I realized I wanted to save haven.

You might have been Adam, but I am

A woman sitting in the heart of civilization,

Creating my identity within the societal rib cage.

I create my role regardless of your reflection.

I choose to be my self, 

As opposed to the Other.

An Exile Full of Tears

I didn’t see the emptiness approach. I had been filled with emotions. A plethora of happiness one may say. Happiness took so much space there was no vacancy within my chest and mind. Although there had been a crack in my heart which gave way for another to forcefully welcome their stay. Happiness was no longer the alpha; emptiness seized power and sentenced emotions to exile. 

I closed my arms tighter around the pillow with hopes to comfort my curled body, and catch every falling tear. The tears escaped my eyes, which were squeezed tightly shut, and they rolled down the side of my face dreading the exile they now faced. The emptiness within myself was no lodger for emotions. The two did not reside together. They competed for the title of alpha state. As emptiness took hold of the space within my chest and mind, the emotions fled. Their humane water, bodily forms dragged their traces behind them until they found refuge in the pillow’s soft material.

Shayla Hickerson
19 July 2015

The Hum of a Dream

I sat in a state of awe, unable to move as I awaited the presence of the darkness. It crept slowly, sauntering on all fours. Its gaze, if perceived, never glanced away. It latched onto me, like a true predator which never allowed its prey escape out of its peripherals. Yet, I felt no fear as the darkness settled before me and reached out a hand. Soft to the touch at first, I welcomed the presence willingly. I yearned for the feeling, overwhelming but ecstatic. Every fiber of my body shook, and the nerves danced as if the micro particles of my body danced endlessly. The arch of my back became more profound as my body curved and twisted along with the rhythm of ecstasy. 

Then darkness pulled back teasingly. My eyes shut tight and it swept over me like a dream, a slight blur moving along to the hum of my breathing. The air entered and fled out of my lungs in quick, sharp intervals, but your presence beside me begged for me to stay in the moment. A voice rolled into my ear, a tender whisper asking for me to breath in – the cold, crisp air pouring into my lungs – and then to proceed with a long exhale – the warmth of my breath turning into micro crystals hanging in the obscure room. I swooned as your voice tickled my ear; the drums rolled creating discreet vibrations. If your voice was a call from the heavens, then I would not need to be persuaded to follow your steps into the light for in your presence is where the greatest perfection lies. I would be whisked away as the rhythm continued in the darkness, and my soul swept into the arms of an eternal heavenly essence.

Shayla Hickerson
21 May 2015

Identity, a poem

I identify as female, but not with the female.  
Difference in wording is to be noted.
Essentially, I am providing permission to use female pronouns.
Nevertheless, I wish not to be grouped with the female stereotypes.
The pre-destination determined by gender roles and generalizations,
Is the most harmful social construction to individuality.
To identify as female simply means that feminine pronouns are acceptable.
Yet, I become susceptible to the baggage brought by the wo(e) added to the Man. 

Collapsed Internally

It’s a feeling that develops in the center of the chest as if all the deep sorrow one could contain gathers up into a tight ball. Then it starts to rip at my insides. It leaves me feeling empty everywhere else in my body, but in the center of my chest, it feels like the world is collapsing in on me. You have the power to make my world collapse in on me. You have the power to break me. 

Yet, when we are together or when I read your heart-filled texts, the feeling is not full of sorrow. It is a feeling of eternal joy and happiness that swells in my heart. It still makes my world collapse, but not into ruins because at those moments nothing else matters when considering how happy you make me then in your presence and embrace.

Shayla Hickerson
11 May 2015

Social Constructs, a poem

Socially, there seems to be a confusion on gendering items.
Octopus Stuffies and bags are constantly questioned on their ability to be feminine or masculine.
Calculations in my head conclude that in reality, it is a genderless object.
Insistent is the word I use for customers when they just stare blankly, because they do not
Accept the response: ‘well if you’ll make use of it, then I say it doesn’t matter.’
Like the advertising market sets the option for you to make use of a product.

Cough, cough. Sorry sir, I’ll have to ask you to take off those flipflops because they are
Obnoxiously feminine, can’t you tell?
No? well, it reeks of sugar and spice and everything nice…
Smells more like bullshit if you ask me.
Truthfully, I’m shocked that you asked my opinion but then;
Rejected my answer that lacked the answer you were searching for.
Ultimately, if it fills up the emptiness of your stare with re-assurance.
Consider putting the frame back on the shelf.
The floral design is definitely stereotyped as feminine.
Surely, based on your look, you’re limiting yourself to objects gendered as male. 

Female, a poem

For a moment, I caught myself in a man-spread and was reminded of
Etiquette. That’s something they say, right? 
Man, I forgot that my ghost-limbed penis doesn’t take up spatial volume.
Act lady-like they say, right?
Likely-hood of me acting lady-like is likely, considering I’m like, a lady.
Effectively, if I act in any way, does not make me less than female, does it?

She’s a Snack

Hickerson, She’s a Snack, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 22x28in.

Artwork Description:

She’s a Snack, 2020, is a rendition based on Gustav Klimt’s Goldfish, 1902. In Klimt’s original painting, 4 female figures swim through flakes of gold. The female nudes are playful and passive, reaffirming the oppressive, dominating male gaze in Art. When considering the playfulness of youth in modern times, the viewer recalls that people who are characterized as sensual are referred to as a ‘snack’. Thus, Hickerson captures a play on words with Klimt’s title, Goldfish while referring to the well-loved cracker, Goldfish, wherein the main female nude transforms into the “snack that smiles back(, Goldfish)” while presenting herself slyly on the kitchen table.