Why are you grieving?
Because the others are grieving.
You are not compelled to grieve independently?
The grass needs raking.
The leaves. I will build a fence to keep them from the sea.
Then will you help the others?
Tollers ring bells even the dead can hear,
a ringing such that I am bound to.
And the leaves?
When they are taken by the waves I give them names,
desiring in this act a homecoming
to which I am constantly denied
on account of other people’s prayers.
Where are you from? There. Where are you headed? There. What are you doing? Grieving. —Rabia Al-Adawiyya Little brother, we are all grieving & galaxy & goodbye. Once, I climbed inside the old clock tower of my hometown & found a dead bird, bathed in broken light, like a little christ. Little christ of our hearts, I know planets light-years away are under our tongues. We’ve tasted them. We’ve climbed the staircases saying, There, there. Little brother, we are all praying. Every morning, I read out loud but not loud enough to alarm anyone. Once, my love said, Please open the door. I can hear you talk. Open the door. Little christ of our hearts, tell anyone you've been talking to god & see what happens. Every day, I open the door. I do it by looking at my daughter on a swing— eyes closed & crinkled, teeth bare. I say, Good morning good morning you little beating thing. Little brother, we are all humming. More & more, as I read, I sound like my father with his book of prayers, turning pages in his bed—a hymn for each day of the week, a gift from his mother, who taught me the ten of diamonds is a win, left me her loose prayer clothes. Bismillah. Little christ of our hearts, forgive me, for I loved eating the birds with lemon, & the sound of their tiny bones. But I couldn’t stomach the eyes of the fried fish. Little brother, we are always hungry. Here, this watermelon. Here, some salt for the tomatoes. Here, this song for the dead birds in time boxes, & the living. That day in the clock tower, I saw the city too, below— the merchants who call, the blue awnings, the corn carts, the clotheslines, the heat, the gears that turn, & the remembering.