we are talking with muted lips.
one of the girls makes a joke about babies, we
laugh with all our teeth;
another talks about her husband coming
home in another woman's skin, we shake
swirl salt around our tongues —
that wretched rag. may sickness blacken her face.
we are not talking
about all the things we are
whose husband's baby is running down our thighs,
there is blood under our manicured nails that, too
we are not talking about.
the music is loud. everything is loud now
especially our chests, howling with memories
of forbidden men, their names
out of our throats
but our voices stay hushed— trapped
in our treacherous mouths like mummified corpses.
under the table,
our hands dig trenches in our knees, and we
can't stop falling
into the wrong beds,
into other women's kitchen sinks — our bodies
swelling with suds until we become graveyards of
bubbles — like elusive ghosts,
can't stop falling into a curse
on the lips of righteous women. somebody makes a joke
we laugh so hard,
all our teeth fall off.
we do not pick them up.
all our teeth do not belong to us
to other women's men.
dhur & my aunt Sidis's oversized hijab shrouding
my childish frame.
damp towels & orange seeds & her
coal pot & her hands— onion hands fat, fat hands hands
so large they can bathe 8 children her four, my mother's
four, & all the grimy children on I. C. E. road
& my aunt Sidi freshly round from childbirth -
puff-puff, chilled fanta
a bouncing baby boy.
& her old, brooding tote bag hanging on
the wall —observer of all our births, our bruises, our blue lives.
& the dog-eared arabic texts in her old, brooding tote bag
& my aunt Sidi blue with want blue with
the smell of laundry left unfinished
blue with her personal histories of
eid chinaware soul stews loud pillows
milk teeth thrown over roofs — prelude to rebellion
& her plump cheeks & her smacking hands — whitlow hands,
& her rich voice ushering all the children inside for their evening baths.
We have lived ten thousand lifetimes before the first of men tore through the dirt.
some nights he’s a tidal wave & you drownas he scripts his love on your back.& you understand this language
If you've walked through the long night of grief,you'll meet the ghost that lives in your head.
i am the drowned ghosts of refugees, the one minute silences invented by daughters
the music is loud. everything is loud now especially our chests, howling with memories
what began as throbs ends in a bleed. I return to the trail of my blood-