The first time I pried a blade from your fist I told myself never again


The poem was originally accepted by Chestnut Review but was withdrawn by the author in protest.

I lied. Those days I had no greater ambition
than an ordinary death, the grace to forget
even if it meant being forgotten. I did love you,
emergency lines, knives and all, and you, you loved me
crawling. The night my mother called and begged me
to come home, you locked the doors and reminded me
you have no home to go back to. I never could
stop dreaming of leaving you. So many ways
it could have happened, instead of how it did:
on the phone in the psych ward by the medication
window, and even the nurses stopped to listen, needles
in the air while I told you I was sorry, but I wasn’t,
and when I hung up the phone, everybody clapped.
Not bad, but remember the day on vacation
our boat filled with water and we shored up to wait
for help? You said if I wasn’t who I was we wouldn’t be
where we were. You weren’t wrong. I should have
left you there on that root-choked riverbank,
decided right then to learn how to swim.

When I Close My Eyes

When I close my eyes, the only things that have ever dropped from the sky in Gaza are droplets of rainfall. They nourish the gardens, they soothe the cracked, dry earth, they fall upon faces like a lullaby.