Mar/Apr 2019 • Vol. XLI No. 2 PoetryMarch 2, 2019 |

Can You Describe Your Years in Prison?

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 alys

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