At the mosque’s entrance 3:30 a.m. Syrian women beg wearing black gloves. Your father’s grandmother was Syrian before the country was ash. Before the government turned to kill its people. What incites that internal blaze? What says it is me I will take or not me but those whom I claim? We are claimed after meditation. We are walking an empty street after pretending to play drums. After I recognize the heather in air after we swim in a pool surrounded by azaleas after your mother smiles observing us after we sleep in her house fields of sunflowers. I’m on a bus watching them sway. I’m forgetting the distance the inevitable loss I will hold warm as snow whitens the green. What will you hold? What will you see beyond your hands? Streets lined with jacarandas that morph to pines to a self beneath ice that wolves trample silently? Someone still begs. Someone still believes in our innate generosity. You are waiting for me but refuse to say it. You believe in returns. You believe in the planet’s roundness. You believe in gravity’s inaudible assurance. You believe in what I doubt.
The wound on her lip goes white
before returning red.
The virus erupts the lines between chin and
lip, between lip and philtrum.
A sore across two continents of skin, a
bridge of lava.
She will feel healed when the flesh
color returns. The variation
is the aberration. Blood courses to
deliver a clot. Vessels
bouquet under the scalp or in the
womb, in places where we
heal fastest. Cells scramble
a lean-to scab, a mortar of new skin.
The body wants to draw its
But Jesus hangs before the
wounded, eternally weeping
from his gashes.
How to open hers without nails or
thorns? How to measure
heartbeats without seeing blood
heave out its rhythms?
A gush slows under pressure
even as the pulse
goes on. Our lesions take air, our
infections seek sunlight. How to
resist our unwilled mechanisms to
We push through the same tear in the
world and leave it sore.
When we come, we come open.
Pick a wound slow to bleed and
slower to seal. We cream
the scar to fade our atlas of living—what
itched its way to a silver road,
what shadow constellation of pox. The
convert counts Jesus’ wounds.
If you count both hands and both feet, all
lashes and piercings
and the forsaken cry, the number is
higher and lower than anyone’s.