Over Skype, I try to document my mother’s
bald-shaved youth—she has a surplus in truths,
and science has proven what it had to prove:
every helicopter-screech I dreamed of was my mother’s first.
Rippling my dumb hand, I wake up in childhood’s crypt,
where prayer is keyless as a foreign laugh overheard
and on the Masjid’s cobalt globe a ghost … an angel?
No, no … who am I kidding. When I say God,
what I mean is: I can barely stand to look
at my mother’s face. So, what if I’ve never seen
what she’s seen. I took the shape of her two hundred
and six bones—I did not choose her eyes. Did not
choose to masticate the ash of witness,
her crooked smile disclosing a swarm of flies,
Yes, missiles hailed there, named after ancient gods.
Hera—a word of disputed root—maybe from Erate,
beloved. And because my beloved is not a person
but a place in a headline I point to and avert my gaze,
I can now ask: would I have given up my mother for an alyssum
instead of asylum? Or one glass of water that did not
contain war? Her wound isn’t mine, yet what I needed most
was our roof to collapse on her like earth around stones.
Rain, the hard absence of skin. The silence of it—
no gust in my goddess. No artificial wind.
Ode to My Hair
Exotic, “omg so thick,” a rug, so to speak—
black cortex, I can almost be beautiful
with you. Once, mother snatched
my split ends like newly acquired money
and named them Taliban Beard.
I never wanted this much of anything,
so I scissored you at the scrunchy
and sold you all to the World Wide Web.
In plastic bags, you were shipped
next to different manes, the past
stored in your filaments like fetuses
in formaldehyde, fragrances distending
as if skin of people huddled
into the eyeless belly of a boat at night.
Cut and alone, dark keratin lies cold
in factory halls: congregation of wait,
you’re patient until you too are wanted.
But when my spools stop, and the silence holds—
let them braid you into other heads.
Let them brush you for my funeral.
Let those of you spared on hospital tiles,
picked from lovers’ teeth, and nestled deep
in the vacuum, or shampooed
between dirt and debris in drains, light up.
May you glow with the weight of love
you can only share with what pries
out of yourself. Those stuck to balloons,
left in brushes, escapees taken away to elsewhere—
what is to be said of you? I won’t be gone
until you are. Heavy root
that rots to bloom when I shrink—
stay and conquer the sargasso in my tomb.