I wouldn’t even know what to do with a third chance,
another halo to shake loose galloping into the crossfire.
Should I be apologizing? Supposedly, what’s inside my
body is more or less the same as what’s inside yours—
here, the river girl clutching her toy whistle. There,
the black snake covered in scabs. Follow my neckline,
the beginning will start beginning again. I swear on my
head and eyes, there are moments in every day when
if you asked me to leave, I would. Heaven is mostly
preposition—up, above, around—and you can live
any place that’s a place. A failure of courage is still
a victory of safety. Bravery pitches its refugee tent
at the base of my brain and slowly starves, chipping into
darkness like a clay bird bouncing down a well. All night
I eat yogurt and eggplant and garlic, water my dead
orchids. In what world would any of me seem credible?
God’s word is a melody, and melody requires repetition.
God’s word is a melody I sang once then forgot.
Copyright © 2018 Kaveh Akbar. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.
October 24, 2006
I’m alive you say
to no one in particular.
You are no one in particular.
That’s a good thing. The street is filled with souls
nested in good-looking bodies
that aren’t looking
in your direction. Someone is singing,
someone’s holding hands
with someone who is embarrassed by affection,
men and women made of light
drink in light
made of men and women.
They are alive you say,
meaning no one in particular.
One of them is singing, one is selling flowers,
one is so thin
you can almost see through her. One is looking
in your direction.
I’m alive you say, a little embarrassed
to be no one in particular, a soul
nested in a body
of men and women.
Someone is singing, someone is drinking
tea that is sweet and bitter.
It’s a good thing you say,
drinking in the light
of men and women,
men and women made of light, nested
in the sweet and bitter. A soul
is singing in your direction, so alive
you can almost see her.
From The Future Is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joy Ladin. Used with the permission of the author.