201431gaza

Like Fish, Like Song (Mourning for Palestine)

in Obituaries by

Like fish in a waterless barrel, barely breathing;

Mosques, crumbling mountains, prayers piled high in the rubble;
the silence of the after;
the limp limb of a dream flattened, cut;

the braided hearts of lovers, thundered from the cord;
the scholar’s skull singed barren; a half-polished shoe in a doorway;
tea cup shards and their damp leaves mute on tomorrow;

lingering smoke steams the mouth, blackens the teeth;

a torn page weeps orphaned paragraphs on the morning’s breath,
the melted beauty of trees and their molten archives, the poet’s refuge gone;

a cough, an echo, a curse on the sky and the stranger’s fist;

the thought that breathing in the dead from an ash-hot wind
is one way to sicken the hunger and thick of dread; is one way to name
the savagery of sorrow, or the sorrow of savagery;

numbness and rage sparring for the aorta, like empty, like lost;

does disbelief catch the tongue;

does a wail make a sound if nobody is left to hear it,
the tympanic membrane housed in the shelled and silent room;

every ear beyond a wall; every question quilted by a silver hair;

every footprint cut short; every knock that left a hole or a shine on the floor;

every secret crevice where hides a God, like hope, like holy, like song up from mud;

like wingless birds in a world that sees a charred nest
and scorches the tree, sets the whole forest ablaze;

in the spring, the Khamsin will carry what remains of the dead,
the dust will settle on our arms, in our rice,
we will brush the dead from our eyes,

we will eat the dead


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Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes is a U.S.-born and raised, Queer, Feminist, second-generation Colombian immigrant, scholar-activist, writer-artist, and bruja. Her performances have been seen at San Francisco’s SomArts, the Mission Arts and Performance Project, Galería de la Raza, and other venues. Her creative prose and poetry have been exhibited in the National Queer Arts Festival, and a number of publications.