Who is this boy in the bone sac asking what to do? See his thin kite whipping. Trembling skin over his eyes. What is he asking that we should know. Young grass at his feet.
Suppose the king is a failing leaf. His wife a blade of glass.
What should I do, she asks, rattling.
Once, on the tarmac, among the cadavers of green tanks, military planes, the mountains encircling them, he kissed the black earth. It had been twenty-five years. Time hurried down his face. Clear, not clear, clear. Men elbowing over the bags. Here, brother, let me. One came smoothly, is that you, my brother, do you remember me, I am in a bad way. Again he became a boy caught by the weather, gave his arms, handed out his eyes, and kissed the stranger with a golden bill.
Let her be a boat. And the sea dark, rummaging.
Bending to tie her lace, she is halved by the dialogue between pearls. Let her be a boat within a boat: two boats spilling water.
Peonies trapped in their pink fists, each of the three daughters had different faces. Their eyes sounded.
One sent invitations the color of fatigue, one prodded the door with science, one stayed on the shore,
singing I have a mother better than a blade of grass / friends better than flowing water
He placed his faith neatly in a handshake that belonged to a body outside of him. What can you do you for me. Please, she asked, what can do you for him. And swallowed her pearls. Two sacs rattling.
The handshake had done something before for him. Had built a cathedral made of calendars. Three hundred thousand pages held his body up. The way the sun glinted, you could not see the words.
Take away the enormous seeing. Please.
They go to the shrine, tie the cloth, distribute the flour, stand alongside a mother beating her chest, a child with two unused snakes, eyes rolling inside, a black box, seven circles, the desert, water to the elbows, barefoot, head to the stone.
The screen, a window, half legible, enter the girls.
Who is this soft peach in a Hurricanes cap, glasses begging for an arrow? Doesn’t he know? When he shares his skeleton, a blackbird with red wings becomes a red-winged blackbird.
Neither had learned to swim, all those years on the peninsula. When the storms came rattling, they would shutter the windows and squeeze into the closet.
They would fasten to the radio.
a word is legged,
to retreat, move back
from a forward or threatened position
as in chess, a piece
to withdraw, leave
to remove or take away
as in love
“the whole country being a swamp
a labor of time and utility”
(Lady Sale, Caboul, 1842)
the longest war
of a quagmire
(Washington, 170 years later)
the going into
and coming out of
as in a bog
she noted, “remarkable
from having a few trees
and a grave or two under them”
late books, headlines
“The Graveyard of Empires”
as in literature
a pretty banner
in a village called
“we were heavily fired upon”
which is “a curious complex”
“they don’t like foreigners with guns
in their country”
Sahar Muradi is a NY-based writer and performer / co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature / co-founder of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association / a Kundiman Poetry Fellow / an AAWW Open City Fellow / recipient of the 2016 Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award / Director of Poetry Programs at City Lore in New York City / and a devotee of the bottom of the rice pot. Sahar's first chapbook, [ G A T E S ], is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. saharmuradi.com.