Dear Aleph,

You’re correct. Every nation hates
its children. This is a requirement of statehood.

This and empathy.
Empathy means

laying yourself down
in someone else’s chalklines

and snapping a photo. A Chrysler
with four bullet holes

in the rear passenger door
just drove by calmly, signaling

before it turned. Oh, Mrs. Evans,
you’re such a wonderful woman,

said, supposedly, Ethel Rosenberg
to the woman who walked her

to the chair.
It was empathy on Evans’s part.

Love on Ethel’s.
I am a wonderful woman

more often than I care to admit.
We are going to have

our first woman president.

From Customs: Poems by Solmaz Sharif. Copyright © 2022 by Solmaz Sharif. Reprinted with the permission of the Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Graywolf Press.