Aria Aber

Song of Jamaal

Look, I say, & Jamaal offers me his eyes.
Jamaal, I have seen the palm trees in you—
even grass wishes it had the colour your eye has.
Has this anything to do with you? Jamaal, I must
confess, it could be about my father’s eyes—
lids wide apart, mint green hospital sheets.
What is real if it’s not the way I bend,
tongue on your hipbone: here, feel it, it’s the Buddhas
of Bamiyan. Their ghosts light up my father’s
anteroom in Kabul, here, the geography:
the neural narrative that lights up my brain––

Look, I say, & its two little Os unhinge, spinning
loose like the box of marbles that night—O aviary
with the parakeets. O thirty-year-old war in my home
O beer puddle, O bombshell locks & hospital they
have burnt down. O parakeet in my fist, throbbing slow:
birdblood & plume, O. All night, I gulped your
eyes against my face, trying to make them see
what my ears won’t stop hearing: this is to define
tinnitus as more than a ringing. What is my leg in yours
if it is not an attempt at singing? We awake
with yesterday’s scent still warm on our scalps &
on our wrists: dead parakeets everywhere we’ve kissed.

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