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Where the Body Rests

By Elmaz Abinader

Allah! Forgive our living and our dead, those of us who are present and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O Allah! .... Allah is Great.

Our skin has turned to parchment
Our skin has turned to parchment
Our skin are the scrolls upon which
This history will be written

When your skin becomes phosphorous
Speckled, yellow and scorched
Each cell is a star, constellations
Flung upwards to create a new sky

When your skin is shredded
Pounded to dust, you are not dead
You are instead ground into the earth 
Fertile and ready to plant

When your body detaches leaving
Pieces of itself on the road
Eyes are tiny pebbles the fist
A pine cone, corpuscles of Indian paintbrush

The deaths of innocents are not buried
Or easily disposed of, no cloth can
Wrap us tightly, no coffin an impenetrable
Shell. We are not dust but
The mark is on the earth, the vapors
Are in the sky, the arteries of the heart
Are the rivers and streams, our hair waterfalls.
We are clouds and boulders, brush and willow.

Our skin has turned to parchment
Our skin has turned to parchment
Our skin are the scrolls upon which
This history will be written

Added: Thursday, April 30, 2015  /  Used with permission.
Elmaz Abinader

Elmaz Abinader is a writer from Oakland who has published a memoir, Children of the Roojme, two collections of poetry, This House My Bones (Editor's Selection Willow Books, 2014) & In the Country of My Dreams... (PEN Oakland Winner). She has also written and performed several one-woman plays, including, Country of Origin, Ramadan Moon, and The Torture Quartet, that relate to life as an Arab amidst political traumas. She teaches at Mills College, is currently working on a novel, and is the co-founder of VONA/Voices, the workshop for writers of color.

Other poems by this author