Sunday, March 27, 2022

Kaveh Akbar, "Soot"

Sometimes God comes to earth disguised as rust,
chewing away a chain link fence or a mariner's knife,
From up so close we must seem
clumsy and gloomless, like new lovers

undressing in front of each other
for the first time. Regarding loss I'm afraid
to keep it in the story,
worried what I might bring back to life,

like the marble angel who woke to find
his innards scattered around his feet.
Blood from the belly tastes sweeter
than blood from anywhere else. We know this

but don't know why—the woman on TV
dabs a man's gutwound with her hijab
then draws the cloth to her lips, confused.
I keep dreaming I'm a creature pulling out my claws

one by one to sell in a market stall next to stacks
of pomegranates and garden tools. It's predictable,
the logic of dreams. Long ago I lived in Heaven
because I wanted to. When I fell to earth

I knew the way—through the soot, into the leaves.
It still took years. Upon landing, the ground
embraced me sadly, with the gentleness
of someone delivering tragic news to a child.

From Calling a Wolf a Wolf, 2017

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