Language is the only homeland.
you want only to escape,
your bundle. If you’re lucky
and do, you lose the lingo
we all want only to forget.
Cross the border and no one
gets that primitive tongue
that sounds to them like barking
or moaning. Who could guess
the tenderness of its ten thousand
untranslatable ways of saying
P comes from the 3,000-year-old Phoenician and Semitic sign pe, mouth.
She Drives Home after Viewing the Drones Quilt
Izaak, age 12,
on the couch playing games on his phone.
His sneakers the neon colors of tropical fish.
His flesh knitting sweetly on long, milk-fed bones.
His five-thousand-dollar braces.
She hugs him till she feels the bird beating in its cage
while all those little ones—
Noor Aziz, age 8
Shafiq, age 2
Shakira, age 4
Sheika, age 3
Ikramullah Zada, age 12
Khadije Ali, age 1—
have flown forever out of reach
to keep her tank full.
Her house warm. Her neighbors
blowing dead leaves off the lawn.
All night the hollow moan of oil trains
runs hidden behind trees in the dark
S comes from the 3,000-year-old Phoenician and Semitic sign shin or sin, tooth
The Drones Quilt, begun by women working for peace in the UK, inspired by the AIDS Quilt, commemorates civilians killed by US drones.
Emily Dickinson’s Estate Sale
It is not down in any map; true places never are.
—Hermann Melville, Moby Dick
I got her glasses and sunglasses—
both surprisingly hip—
and a blue fountain pen. I wanted
to head out for the ocean
but you didn’t. You were delighted
with her liqueur glasses, so tiny,
tall and delicate, on two glass trays,
and a remote for the ceiling light.
You switched it on—dazzling.
The estate was vast, with lots of visitors
wandering through, yet not crowded.
Not the cramped rooms
in Amherst. Her other place,
the one not on any map.
How the Light Gets In
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending
precious pottery with gold
Don’t call it your bad hip—
recall the Japanese art of kintsugi
and be the cracked vessel
patched with gold.
Don’t wince when it squeaks
but thank the bright steel
wound inside, cupping your pelvis
and capping your thigh.
Don’t feel shamed by the scar—
you’ve wrestled till day break
with man and god, and managed
to limp away blessed.