after Tarfia Faizullah
Here, by this tide of waste that
ribbons black across empty fields,
parched grass a girl gnaws
and fills in a straw sack. Here,
deep in my own body beating
with the stop, stop, stop,
of the commando’s thrusting
gun – here, in this hue of dawn
slung outside the fruit shack,
this bracelet of jasmine
a boy twirls on a broken arm,
this knot of ribbon a crow peels
from a pole in the shrine. This junk
I carry with me and a clipping
on drowned girls in the local paper.
City of ash, I return to you,
where time widens and thins,
where time, a sickness,
issues one day after another.
Teach me how to come back whole.
Give me a name for the surge
at the sight of every
broken thing. Let me return
to the settling ghost of your river,
its spirit of relinquishment. Let me
return to you, this ache
at the center of the world.
Author’s note: The lines “This junk I carry with me . . .” and “Let me return to you . . .” borrow and alter language from Margaret Atwood’s poem “Postcard” and Elena Bell’s poem “Letter to Jerusalem.”