Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Exile Elegy by Solmaz Sharif

Exile Elegy

Our phone would
rarely ring. I have no ear
          for the mu-
          sic here. They would
bury one then another, the eldest son dropping

the grave to
comfort the corpse, calling us
          months later
          because we were
exiles, were vagabonds, fugitives, past Sierras,

oil rigs
in Texas, or waiting for
          the windshield
          to clear of frost,
two expanding ovals where the Buick’s heat hit, our

opened to
kudzu, here where the dead can
          not reach us.
          Three thimbles with
her sweat, in the dresser drawer they emptied would, I bet,

clink, tongueless.
Gauze of soot, of skin sifted
          off her where
          she scratched her head,
licked her thumb to lift page after thin onionskin page,

her mantle.
Portrait of Imam Ali,
          dead husband,
          dead son. She stuffed
plastic bags into plastic bags, clouds of them, some stuffed

cash. She who
pled Eat. pled Pray. said I pray
          for your soul.
          fasted, said Ask
Him, never once talked of love, or, fondly, My husband,

would that I
could lick the dust that like—I
          think it’s—mus-
          sic will not reach
us here, just wet my fingertip, run along inside

sock drawer
so that her sugar, Shiraz
          bits she tracked
          inside, I could
eat, lick off her plastic tabletop whatever fell

by grain off
her tiny, tin teaspoon. Where
          her gold went,
          who gives a shit.
I claimed her sugar bowl, white floral veil she prayed in,

take once her
daily, daily things. Morning
          (one, even)
          to step up her
thinly carpeted steps, hear her dentures click and clap.

can’t hear that
music here.


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