The soup cooks for an hour while vultures and buzzards pluck the market.
My father wipes his forehead with a white cloth.
Once, each day began with khubz and samoon
flat and hot from griddle, and sips of sharbat with sandalwood petals.
Those beside the river were not aware of other places. No one knew
how long the water ran, ran, trying to get where it had never been.
My father hears nothing and nothing becomes the gate
he walks through. There is nothing
but what has been erased.
Listen to the clumsy way he watches the pigeons,
and his laugh when they lift a few streets off.
It takes a whole life to make a man, but there was a day
he raised his overstuffed suitcase, the day he was sent for,
the day the desert lost its pungency. That day
denied him one future and brought him the trampled ground of another.
My father dines on his languages: garlic and lemon. On barley and river.
There is hunger and hunger lined up on his spoon.
Candied apricot, yogurt, his sixth birthday, his seventh.
Take the pot from the flame.
I was born on ashes. Cotton and silk left in basements,
on old candelabras and alleys. On someone else’s recent past. On clotted sky.
How do you live in silence? You talk to absence.
You eat, tasting the steam. The ingredients vary.
You smash the door.
You erase and erase until what you’ve kept is transparent.
You watch the earth in the window, your body browning.