A bowl of water. Wheat or bread. Hyacinth flower.
The way my father warmed a pomegranate in his palms
before defecting its plump meat, while at the open window
we learned to measure an epoch with its armada of light
from right—tick-tick—to left. Painted eggs. A warm fish
in a bowl. That’s the way it was: madar muted BBC,
and to the chit-chat of our budgies pixelated men
slid through slabs of wood, copper wires, single shoes—
Happy Nowruz. On TV, eyebrows contort a border between
dirt-specked foreheads and eyes the color of my uncles’,
yet I’m half-lucky because in the contour of his whipstitched
skin, my padar’s entire. Sprays of pine. Candles. A mirror.
That’s the way we wanted it. Was that the way we wanted it?
When will we go home? I ask, and deterring from
the cleaved window, madaar replies: pray for money, jaane man.
All I want is this sing-song to be over soon, clover roots
to deflower the sweat of Darjeeling, hard pollen to lick from
my philtrum when I’m tiptoeing down seven stories
in the piss-stained elevator with the warm throttle
of plume in my hand. Khodawand, I bargain—
I’d surrender all my singed days for dollar bills or afterbirth.
Let me up, let me up, screeches the voice in my fist—
but I know God is buried with the worms in the dirt.
Aria Aber was born to Afghan parents in Germany, and now lives in New York, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry and Writers in Public Schools fellow at NYU. Her poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, The Journal, The Margins, Best British Poetry, and others. She has been awarded fellowships from Dickinson House and Kundiman.