A bloody shaft of light
shone under our door between their compass & the north star
so the road passed through our house out toward the estuary.
Its stones are our tears which silted in our chests until we spat them out.
The road smashed the Janus-faced mirror & flasks of the perfumers
and left us nothing but the clouds to dwell in
with our mouths, as our pockets, stuffed with sand.
Rains taught him how he’d evaporate from the earth’s body.
The cat taught him how to sleep in the shadows of roses.
The well led him to concealment.
The leaves are going yellow, shouting, whirling about,
so he listens to the pulse of the tree.
The world is tearing through
tatters fluttering like banners in the amphitheater
where madmen swam in our wounds pleading they’d not heal
nothing will stop all this blood but the sun & the wind.
Our dreams remember our dreams.
Like drenched cats we took shelter under the tree when it rained
and big droplets put out our cigarettes.
Flashlights moved across the theater of clouds.
The hankies were sodden. Chairs were abandoned
where I waited for your hand.
Roots lifted the pavement slabs in front of us
and I concealed your craving on my shoulder
like the tattoo of an unfulfilled desire.
The drowned came back with pebbles & the stove was
black as a burnt pot.
The scissors in your hand are the tail of a dead swallow
& your heart is weaving light shafts & straws as one rug.
The moon of your prayer is full,
it will share its body’s loaf with you
& roll like a grindstone of chalk over the cloth of evening.
We will wear what the blind wear,
meanwhile the wrinkles pain raises with its hooves inside your guts
crowd into the corners of your mouth & eyes:
no place but your face.
There is a sea tossing & perspiring under the soil,
& a young man is sobbing because he’s seen bread. This is your son.
Stretch out your hand & push at this rock with your touch.
From beneath the headstone a thirsting wave comes forth
and places a kiss on the palm of your hand
quiet as this grass, slight as the scarf on your head.
If you came back alive to your mother
you would see her tattoos drop blue as perfume,
you would see her mouth's
the names peeling from her salty lips,
you would hear her tongue which made god descend
to smell insomnia's remnants in the rooms' corners.
You would come back
hungered as an idea you're afraid would die
and if you opened any door,
to reassure yourself or to leave,
you would open perplexity.
The mirror would come closer, higher.
Like two old enemies
your eyes gaze into your eyes.
© Golan Haji. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Stephen Watts. All rights reserved.
This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution by contacting us at email@example.com.