Micah Khater

Issue #
April 28, 2020

delicate collections

                                             after Inam Kang, “detailed history of the affair between my father’s head
                                                                                                                                    and my mother’s shoulder”

none of these words I pluck,
my grandmother
would understand, or at least
if I could trick my not-yet-born mouth
to speak
she would hear a roaring silence &

smiles could only be smuggled in by fingers
gently translating between us, like a
spurious langua franca
kissing the wisped hairs of our
brow, all along the way

shrouded in a beautiful phantasm, I would move
mint between my hands,
spreading its wide scent,
poured across
uneven stitching
that connects the sinew of our fingers

the calcified tips of my nails
would palpate the wet skin of onion,
Alhamdulillah, she would say
because my hands know how to
undress the layers quickly, pulling
apart the meaty body before
its acrid air makes either of us
reach for the damp
fabric of her apron

while we eat, there would be a natural quiet
that humbles
our mouths to all the ways
our words fail to orchestrate how
tabbouleh can; she would raise
her eyes as if to say [ ]
I don’t understand,
my lips would begin to mimic a strange form
& then stop, instead
I would chase away the distance with a careful
palm laid across her forearm

then there would be the warm water,
pouring down my arms while she careens
throughout the galley
kitchen, singing from places in her throat
I only dream of; I would fall into a sleep
where her sounds are my own
& the silence that transpires between us,
a confirmation interpreted
in distance that I am hers

finally, a long-lost liaison between
the worn softness of her rug & the bareness
of my legs
I would cantillate sweet sounds that have
no shape
that anyone could call “language”;
grandmother couldn’t resist these resonances
culled from my lungs,
habibti! she would laugh, but then
cry—because, after all
I would fade
a part of this delicate collection
war has taken, removed
from her

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