When the child’s logos pluralizes
silence as a poetics,
        you, like Shurooq2, remember anything is –
nothing, also.

& when rosily you brine in mangoes
        and the heart’s sweet-sour vortex,
you think neither this, nor that, but everything –
        is a spider spinning caution to a bird.

& when the synaptic denouement frays
        the oculus of memory,
history by any other metaphor becomes –
        red and redundant.

& when only ruins can express a fact completely3
        do you get the lullaby, the ritual, the promise –
that song which weighs peripheries
        in stops and spirants like the prophet.

& when rigorously you sleep
        from the condition of thus –
your grief rehabilitates
        in a metaphysician’s halfway house.

& when paranoia declares anything, anybody:
        a pilgrimage, a maxim, or just psychic
excess in the velvet of consonance –
        you blur like the Sharqi4 horizon.

        Then in the conference of that immediacy,
the sky’s lapis knots your opalian eye
        to its All and lineates the unfathomable
on each end of yours and the child’s essence.

Wafaa Mustafa is an Iraqi poet from Dearborn and a teaching artist with InsideOut Literary Arts, Citywide Poets, and the Arab American National Museum’s Teen Writing Fellowship.

1Al-Falaq or in Arabic, اَلْفَلَق, translates to The Daybreak and is the 113th chapter of the Quran invoking the God of Dawn to protect the spirit from prevailing darknesses and hidden malevolence.

2Shurooq or in Arabic, شروق, translates to Sunrise and is an appellation for One who Rises.

3A quote from architect, Aldo Rossi, on designing the San Cataldo Cemetery.

4Adjectival to Shurooq and the sunrise, Sharqi, or in Arabic, شرقي, translates to Eastern and is the name of seasonal high winds that cause sandstorms across the gulf region annually.

Part of our 2024 Fiction Issue.

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