2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Sophia Naz is a poet, writer, translator and editor published in numerous literary journals. Her poetry collections are Peripheries, Pointillism & Date Palms. Naz is Poetry Editor at The Sunflower Collective and City, a Quarterly of South Asian literature. Her website is http://www.trancelucence.net
Descanso For America
Here in silence are their names. They were just young pupils. Irises not yet widened into the giddy wingspan of butterflies. What is the weight of the human heart? Tibetans string up prayer flags and let the wind do the chanting. If you hung up every single picture from an abruptly truncated yearbook their stories would be surgeons. Cutting through the artery clogging grease of a zillion false narratives. The heart of the matter.
While the red meat of America First is served up with a side of bait and switch, refugee children from Iraq and Syria are washing up on the glittering shores of Europe as if they are the broken glass of a bottle whose message will never be read. A grandmother died last night because a bigot President said she could not board a plane to The Land Of The Free. There is no poem which can undo this.
The heart is a fish swimming upstream. Her hyphenate gills suck up the sludge 24/7 to write a *descanso for America. Place it like a pushpin on a calendar each day for forty days and forty nights and then begin again. No end to this Lent. Not while water is a mortal sin, Tar Sands are king and the incarcerated masses toil for fifty cents an hour in home groan sweatshops sowing seam after seam in the key of obscene sentencing.
Immigrant heart, efficient even in exile, expert in the economies of loss, the rites and rights of the obliterated. Ear as earth-labyrinth listening for crumbs.The color of an insult, wedded to burning cheeks heard from birth. Feel its hum & hammer herd like the ghosts of butchered bisons in your eardrums.
Before you climb this ladder know it leads up into a manhole. Snakes are the limbs of every branch. Watch your step child. Don’t try to smell the flowers in the waiting room. Each bloom is fake in its own unique, patent pending way. Did you know your fingers are touching a spyglass at this very moment? You who trust in the innocence of yellow disks plastered with heart shaped eyes.
The God-Emperor has no clothes. Minders are standing by with blindfolds. Or, you can simply cup your barren sockets in your boat shaped palms as your eyes float away on the breakaway ice of melting glaciers. Unable to follow them even at a distance as they disappear. Your eyes who had grown up like strong yellow dandelions in the charring South sun drowning in the tipping point by the yawning door of no return. Before you scroll away I thought you might want to know. The human heart is about the size of a clenched fist. About to give blood.
* descanso: roadside memorial at the site of a fatal accident
Thirty Three Inuit Names of Snow
Light travels at sixty eight thousand miles a second
ergo, even as your lover’s eyelash brushes
your cheek, a glimmer has passed
into dark diurnal wells where you go
like village girls to draw
water for these lines
When you wake from wetness, clocks
are dismantling silence like
taxidermists they push
pins into sky’s chameleon feather
mining the amoebic
belly of water
to cash in on a quick rainbow
everyone’s watching for a pot of gold
While you are dreaming of a deep silence
folded in the thirty three Inuit names of snow,
What is love if not something that alights on the tongue?
Snow is the language of osmosis
synonym of a teaspoon of star soup from the first stirring
the eons old light swimming
like eels in your veins.