Fata Morgana, 1987

by Aria Aber

for Meena Keshwar-Kamal

Almond-mouth, even the crumbs
in your pockets are dank with elsewhere:
kulche badami, flour pale like a breast
in your Amaa’s kitchen bowl, ivy masturbating

its way up the masjid’s unapproachable
clefts, and yes, this is how they drag you
into the market filled with dogs
salivating for a half-mast.

How is the creel?
shouts the buckskinned canyon,
and you reply: I have a dead cousin
dripping from every faucet,
I have a dead cousin in the basement
hymning for Zarathustra,

but I don’t want to listen,
consider no umbras. Citizen me
in this tundra of light, you shout
at the market’s interstice, agape
for the silver thimble.

Half-mast, half-mast, bark the dogs. One man’s
mourning is another’s salute, laughs
the flag. Compatriot, I am not
what I was – nakheir, nakheir.

Almond-mouth, I cannot enter
the procession. It’s true I’ve imagined
the face of God, yes,
I procured God’s eleven tongues
and spat on them a coagulated sea.
The liveliness. The liveliness
of this day assails me.