(after Mahmoud Darwish)
I too come from there, this place of few surviving photographs.
I have some unused stamps, I have some books of yellowed paper
and a map, somewhere, whose windows are all creased.
I have a secret that is not so secret
to those who know, and siblings
where you would not think to find them.
I used to have a house in the elbow
of an alley shaped like the letter L.
Mine is the subtrahend devised of distant hills,
and the background noise of trains after midnight.
Mine is a pair of ghost
magnolia trees, and a woman dressed in white
eternally trying to hitch a ride.
And the smell of dough in the morning,
and the invisible grain of eggshells in the coffee.
How amazed I am to think that once,
at the age of nine, I packed a paper bag with a cloth
handkerchief and a toothbrush, and attempted to run away.
I too come from there, where the sky scribes its name
with the monsoon’s hundred thousand letters.
But even when it rains I know its underlying body is sunflowers,
is made of cypress and old pine.
I know it lights the tapers during power outages.
I know it burns to ash the lottery tickets that did not win.