-after ladan osman
i. look—in the middle distance the siren screams
like a fatherless boy,
unashamed. ii. sisyphus hikes up her dress.
she labors pushing,
always a man,
and if she shrugs, he rolls atop her
or the town at the foot of the hill. or a man, calling himself sisyphus, knocks
and says: push is a man’s verb
but she can help. or else,
he says, quiet. iii. it’s said we are afraid
of what we don’t understand. who
among us is shaken by latin? we are terrified of what might
overtake us. sadness, marriage, spanish,
rain. iv. like a sextant he angled himself as if
(as if!) to kiss. his hands in the ocean of her
eyes and his knee pressed against the air
like a rudder. v. how can i make you
understand? as a boy i held a bell in my hand. and i grew
to be a man who looks back
on that bell. vi. what is there
to say? that was yesterday. vii. the first thing odysseus decides
when he returns is to cock his bow. fire
in the crowd. over and again, bullets move
at flirtatious angles. viii. in the city, the first november rain
laps at a set of heels. ix. a family of plantains.
no one speaks
their name. actually,
a silence, even when they are perfect and brown.
every domestic, familiar,
unpretty thing. x. i’ll say it again:
if a hand is big enough it doesn’t matter
what you call it. xi. the story of orpheus and the bear is this—
orpheus, of course,
sings. his wife is distinguished
by her marriedness
to orpheus. jumping ahead: he left behind his clothing, his furniture
and everything. xii. there is an old story
of a man. that is the story.
there is an old story of a woman
that the old story of the man spoke over.
i am his son. xiii. imagine here the voice
of a woman. xiv. a list of all that is fixed:
only the ground.