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.


She visits me when the lights are out, 
when the sun is loving another
part of the world.

She passes through the net I sleep under  like 
a cloud its holes are easily navigable.

Her buzzing tells me that
she doesn't want my legs  arms  cheeks 
or chest.


She craves adventure  wanting to travel through 
the dark canal  the spiraling cave 
where earthquakes are wind.

Her prize is in sight  the gelatinous mass controlling this machine. 
How beautiful she thinks it is  her needle mouth
filling with water.

Her children will know physics  geometry  will understand 
English  Spanish  perhaps Portuguese. They will be 
haunted their whole lives by trees  guns
and a boom that won't cease.

She cries before drinking  the fluid is 
salty-sweet. Oh if my mother had 
done this for me  I would have lived.

Related Poems

Poem Full of Worry Ending with My Birth

I worry that my friends 
will misunderstand my silence

as a lack of love, or interest, instead
of a tent city built for my own mind,  

I worry I can no longer pretend 
enough to get through another

year of pretending I know 
that I understand time, though 

I can see my own hands; sometimes, 
I worry over how to dress in a world 

where a white woman wearing 
a scarf over her head is assumed 

to be cold, whereas with my head 
cloaked, I am an immediate symbol 

of a war folks have been fighting 
eons-deep before I was born, a meteor.