It’s beautiful to speak for her; she’s dead.
I sit in the scalding bath. I like to change my skin.
This is my sanity: salt and bubbles. To outlive
is to become mockingbird: She was, she was.
I echo her in the water, and in this way I live too,
walking at 2 a.m. in a village in Lebanon,
jackals waiting in the blank land. It is 1959.
Jiddo has a revolver in his pocket, to shoot
whatever might slink from the dark, but nothing does.
Only howls. They sing to keep the animals away.
I like to think she wore her hair in a knot,
high as a planet, that she only loosened it inside,
back in the new house. They barely knew the country.
The walk was over. The walk was forgotten about.
Only I am obsessed with it, stage-directing their lives
like the stranger that I am. It’s all gone now: house, body.
What remains is no better than gossip:
animals, a fog that took days to leave her hair.
• • •
TO READ MORE POETRY, PICK UP A COPY OF VOL 54.2
HALA ALYAN is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the recently published novel The Arsonists’ City and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, LitHub, the New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn, where she works as a clinical psychologist.