At the Arab American Wedding

great-uncles in tuxes played gin,
             drank scotch, counted

             cash by the pool
like extras from The Godfather.

Inside, aunts had long given up
            the old country—

            or else wrapped it,
carefully, inside grape leaves.

The black already canonical:
              fedoras & hair,

              olives & eyes—
stories lilting like ash at the end

of smokes. In ballroom haze we danced
           dabke—clasped hands

           with cousins we knew
or barely knew, arms braiding arms,

feet stepping as if into dark,
             lifting & dragged

             back & forth,
as if the foot were snagged

on a fit of remembering—
             facing each other

we faced each other
               & circled some invisible

tree our dancing made—limbs reaching—
              no longer speaking

              the tongue we once
held common, we grasp for branches

to keep this circle moving, forth
             & back, forth & back—

              stamping ourselves
into a land so far from homeland.

From Fugitive/Refuge by Philip Metres. Copyright © 2024 by Philip Metres. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.