In the beginning, there was an angel with cloven feet who stood by me,
and the angel said, My wings are an ocean, and its shoulders split until
feathers fell around us. This is how you leave your country.
On the back of an ocean. Choked with feathers.
If someone gives you water, drink. And if they hand you a glass of blood,
tell yourself it’s water. If they hand you a lamb and say eat, they will
see a lion. They will call you lion when you walk down the street.
When the towers come down. When blood is the water they drink.
When my belly sings with hunger, it’s asking, Will you die for an idea?
I dreamt I walked the shore of my country and each wave cracked like
a bone. The sea of my childhood rattles with skulls, and their mouths—
agape with my name—drown its vowels, call me S, say it’s the name
the sea spoke when I dragged my feet across an ocean and became
somewhere new. I call my dead Beloved but they have too much
time for me. If I close my eyes, I see my father on the beach,
his hands cupped for water. He says, The dead are always thirsty,
and I wake up in time to catch the L for work that hardly keeps me fed.
Heaven, leave your light on a little longer. I looked for you on earth
and found my daughters. I looked for you and saw your stars strung
electric as sorrow and they wound my current across their backs
and carried me here, the middle of a grocery store parking lot,
the whine of flood lights burrowing into my capped head
and the black night ahead, and I think, My god, will I ever not be
surprised by what I can survive? The long country of my loneliness
stretched out before me, my hands heavy with the food I can eat—
I’m so full of honey in a time of war, winter in a land
I’m learning to love, in a land that won’t love me.