she used to speak
Pashto in her sleep
her longing for home
moving across the ceiling
the way light does
in a swimming pool.
is there a moral to this?
the gleam of the fruit
in the bowl in the dark kitchen
maddening to insomnia.
even now I hold my breath
every time I leave the house.
I will admit
I am not ready
for certainties. I've spent
years leafing through ghosts.
yet the weight of keys
in the pocket. yet the groceries
& to-do lists. the heart,
that maudlin thing, becomes
conch shell, waiting
for the flux of voices sliced
by city shutters to wash up
on the night's blue
(her name scintillated,
hard to fix on the tongue,
it took a cab and went all the way
across the country in some nice town
by the ocean, I was left to tidy
up the kitchen and replace
the burnt light bulbs)
her name is some other
androgynous syllable suite
gathered in the throat to preserve
its blessing, its indulgence
aren’t we all seeking to be
someone’s silent shield, silent citadel
of comfort, someone’s
charred walls growing immense
Joshua could never fell us
but let him try, let him try and stumble
as we recalibrate our inner frequencies
to the tune of his despair
to hell with lilacs, and soft scents,
she's got jasmine on her tongue, sharp
as Tangiers in the low hanging sunrise.
the shallow waters of morning
grow cold and still I find no shore.
her name will break the riddle,
yet nothing eradicates longing,
not even the rituals, the unalterable
heritage of stone, corridors
of airports, a palpitation from overseas –
only the dark anchors of her hands
illuminate the maps she's drawn
on my back. skin creased, scorched,
a spine too light for freedom, Icarus
never touched the sun.
how staggering the inheritance, the weight of blood,
neither opaque nor luminescent. there is a flat sour stone
in your stomach, to suck on in times of drought. that's
how people survive. you sign the page and where the ink
drips it twists and coils into corollas of dark orchids. you
bite your tongue, check the pulse, but deny the metaphor.
everything’s a sign, nothing short of a miracle. you tease
the wound, bare the soul. we bear the name of dolorous
queens. it’s not that we fell out of heaven, but rather
gardens fell out of us, spilling through, pushing through
the orbits and the bridges of our bones to escape what
necessarily comes with organs and limbs – pain, famine,
alteration. we have become the absolute authority on loss.
outside our gates, Eden looks in, majestic and steadfast as
always, sighing at what it has avoided.
AK Afferez is a queer writer who's currently trying to survive grad school, write a book, and learn to read tarot, in no particular order. They tweet @akafferez & work for Winter Tangerine. Their favorite small talk topics are the apocalypse and lesbian history.