The Brilliant Fragments

Hadara Bar-Nadav

To kneel by the cochineal
head of the dead.

Fragments—grammar
broken along the way.

I tell you the birds
dropped at my feet,

            eleven of them, sucked
            out of the sky, whole.

I return home.
I report the details.

The men who attempt
to control animals

tell me to bag each one,
though I am afraid

to touch their bright
stillness—

            the blank eyes
            in their blank heads.

            It is all wrong,

as are the chemical clouds
drifting from the fields

where the cows make
us milk and meat.

The sunsets beautifully hued:
oozy pink, infected apricot.

            Day after day of wrong color.

And then farm trucks encircle
the town and spray

a silver-white fog
to neutralize the air.

Twinkling stitched
to the sky

            like ghosts
            beading the wind.

More by Hadara Bar-Nadav

Lullaby (with Exit Sign)

I slept with all four hooves
                       in the air or I slept like a snail

            in my broken shell.

The periphery of the world
                       dissolved. A giant exit sign

            blinking above my head.

My family sings
                       its death march.

            They are the size of the moon.

No, they are the size
                       of thumbtacks punched

            through the sky’s eyelid.

What beauty, what bruise.

                       What strange lullaby is this
            that sings from its wound?)

Here, my dead father knocks

                       on a little paper door. Here,
            my family knocks, waits.

Come through me, my darlings,

                       whatever you are: flame,
            lampshade, soap.

Leave your shattered shadows

                       behind. I’ll be the doorway
            that watches you go.

Thumb

Who means what it is to be human
and is scarred by childhood.

Thick and neckless. Your head shaped
like a gravestone.

A smile opens across the knuckle and disappears
every time you lift a tumbler of scotch.

Who holds a pen and lies.

Who holds a chopstick
in the language of still-twitching fish.

When you think of the past you form a fist
until a heart beats.

Once removed by a chisel. Then reattached.

You stiffen in the rain and dream
of pudding—a smooth, boneless lake.

Who butters morning toast
while wearing a butter hat.

Who fingers the ad for beef, grows numb
while talking to a girl on the phone.

Useless while typing. Useless
tool who only worships space.

A stump. A blackened stamp.
Your own private map of loneliness.

Who always leans to one side. Detached.
Distant from all others.

Dress (Aurora Borealis)

     —Ambreen Riasat was a victim of an honor killing on April 29, 2016. Thirteen people, including some of her family members, were arrested in connection to her murder.
 

See me for miles—

          lightstreaked,
          deathstreaked.

A disturbance.
(I am disturbed.)

          Theatrical
          and skinless.

          Electrical, all
          edge. 
          
A knife of ice
carving the sky.

White blades, 
white fathom,

          unbridled.

White that is red
is pink is hue

          is glazed enormity,
          tangerine plush.

And then comes
the blood,

          scarlets on fire.

Why is a girl always
on fire.

What makes her
crackle—

          breathtaking,
          the cut wrist,

          thighs rushed
          by smoke,
                                                                                                                                                       
          roil of voile,
          combustible.

So I loved, laid, slept
for days, blinked,

breathed flame,
paraded like a god.

Gianter than god
and vincible.

          Made of nothing at all.
                                           
          Fleshless,
          a fuse of refusals.

And am I beautiful
now, who owns beauty,

waiting for your tongues
to slip by.