Two Micros by Safia Elhillo

portrait of abdelhalim hafez as orpheus

after the funeral               women poured
down from balconies      fourteen brown
nightingales diving         in the name of
a communal beloved the legend goes
a brownfaced head hair combed back
with water        skims down the river nile
by night             o moon o you who have
forgotten me
      survives the failed body

the storied mouth            propped open
& a final song                                 falls out
if you see my beloved reassure me reassure
                  leaves no ripples
in its wake

empire service train #283

                    a white man threatens an ending
if i don’t change seats                      & i sit still
bleating             [i have a ticket i have a ticket]
i’m police he says          i’m police what are you

by now [        ]       is dead has been dead
for months                my shower curtain collapses
in the middle of the night     i sit in the dry tub
cover my legs                 with the fallen plastic
a fruit fly lands on my left eye & drowns


“The water forgives / every muffled rupture but”