On Becoming Memory

i: How Memory Begins
I remember the bullet
shot memory of my sister.
I remember the bullet
being shot in my sister’s eye.
I remember my sister
becoming an infant memory
after the bullet shot.
I remember the memories
when I wiped her cheeks
full of mango and spit.
How together we buried its pit
into the sun-baked ground
and prayed like beggars
to see a new color.
I remember her running
with her palms cupping
and spilling well water
with a smile too pure
for any bullet.

i: Birth Beneath a Western Sun

My sister was born
a nuclear child. Underneath
a khayma still sticky with birth,
she coughed up a prayer
woman’s smoke blown
towards her brown face. Fortune,
we believed, has birthplace
in another. How lungs
become the only gods we need,
and how even gods need air.

i: How the Living Drown

Remember, swollen lungs can drown.
I remember her drowning.
I am drowning myself as I write this.

i: Portrait of Sister and Brother

Qasaba of Radwan Bey,
Street of the Tentmakers:
where the Egyptian soldier
stuck that poison in her eye.
These Arabian souqs course with
the chop-chop shuffle of muslin,
paddy, and silver. How the exchange
of hands became a language
our bodies spoke before words could
grace words. My sister was illiterate
at this. She couldn’t read you a page
from a dollar. But she read
the blue lotus petals on the ground,
the white-jasmine dresses
hanging above her like fresh
cuts of storefront lamb,
and the selling of prayer rugs that told her:
This is what you pray towards.

i: Tell Me

Which god is the one that teaches
bullets to ride the wind as horses?
Which god is the one that dresses
in green and licks the cigarette
between his teeth and owns reddish
bristles that curls and scorches a face?
Which god fashions the act?
Which act fashions the god?

i: How Memory Continues

I remember the bullet
shot memory of my sister
as she bought her own gun
full of plastic that spits
out the plastic it’s fashioned
of. For the pigeons, I asked.
No, she giggled. To protect our
mango tree
. She couldn’t read
the native tongue of a gun,
how it could burn her
into a metaphor, into a memory, into
a poem feeling for its limbs.

i: Portrait of God and Gun

I remember the god with bristles
meeting with my sister.
How she couldn’t read the lines
between games and graves.
She pointed her toy gun at his
heart: partitioner of blood and god.
How she couldn’t see plastic
from iron. How he couldn’t see
a girl from a war-woman.
I remember a bristled god
so afraid of being man, that he
shot a bullet into my sister’s eye.
One moment: the scene stood.
Two moments: she became kerosene.

i: Eye Level

She saw a god running away
with her single live eye
unaware of what had become
of her second.

i: How Forgetting Begins

She doesn’t know my touch anymore.
She doesn’t know herself anymore.
All she knows is the cold taste
in her skull, and the bullet learns her

i: On Becoming Ghost

I remember the entry wound in her eye
becoming a black brimming well.
How god swelled a sun and moon
in the orbs of her little head.
Can an eye without an eye
be defined as an eye?
Can a brother without a sister
be defined?

i: Agape

I don’t know digging. But I begin
the faithful work of burying. I lay her
in the soil beside the mango pit.
My lips have forgotten
what they’ve kissed, but they remember
this: I kiss the red ochre earth
and lay my lips on each cheek
before I seal her a little closer
to heaven.
i: Tell Me, Again

To the god with bristles, to the god
in green, to the god that smokes,
to the god that taught the bullet
speech, tell me what you pray towards.
Tell me the names of your lovers.
Tell me what becomes of your
memories, so I can rest knowing
you know the ghosts of loss well.

i: On Raising the Body

Can the body be written
back? Can I write her?
Can I write back
whatever’s left of her color?

i: How Memory Becomes Endless

I write myself drowning.
In drowning, I write myself.

Driving Test

Decamp into ramps of small intestine twists, she says. But driving alone, you’ve always avoided highways—for the fear of breeze shaving crazily at your vehicle’s chemo head, other drivers bullying your sluggishness or the spotlessness of speed guns with km bullets aiming at your windscreen's chest.

Fourteen Ways of Looking

At fourteen I imagined that in the face of great tragedy, I would be brave, heroic even.

"Connotations" and "Rewrite request"

Gradually conceals / suddenly. Confiscated takes a bullet for / stolen. A whole family hiding / beneath the floorboards of language.