by George Abraham
after Tarfia Faizullah and Vievee Francis
there was a dead tree rotting behind the church
over there. & wedding bells. they dance. or was it collision
i wanted. the pianist’s misstruck chords. a false minor.
he asked what my hands could do. he called me
a dog. it was a joke. he drops the dog. then kisses it. he wanted
me. an it he joked about raping. because he could not
admit. it happened. the basement. there. the lights
flickering. until they weren’t. an inhabited dark. burnt
their soft coils. i didn’t want to. see. anything. his hand sliding
beneath me. pretending he wanted me. to cum. i came
on my own accord. i was never there. my stain, a small country
he didn't notice. i, a small country on his couch. i fled.
i thanked him. on the way. out. that language without
voice. that body without. dead tree. a rotting.
a man was here once. i pluck the instrument until
no man. o tenor hum. o vibrato of shedding dead.
yes i touched the copper-gutted socket. there was a puddle
5 inches to my left. were i to move. or were it a larger stain
i would have unbroken that circuit &. a light. alight. i flicker. & am
no longer. i touched a white man. once. i do not touch white men
like that. white men touch me like rotting tree. white men fuck me
into dead country. stain on rubble. stain on earthly stain. there were
trees here once. those men’s hands stained with its gold. an ethnic
cleansing. i touch myself & do not leak gold. i touch myself. there.
the mind craves. the body cannot. i synapse & closed circuit. desire’s
molecular inception. expulsion of spinning orbitals. the mind’s
momentum. electric. until the body cannot be. until the body, red
& leak. wound un-cauterized. i've killed myself many times. i haven’t
died yet. i've died for men. many times. they do not call me
savior. i don’t know this song. the words don’t translate. the melody,
a pianist’s trembling hands. or was it dancing. i familiar the wind. that wind,
a kind of language. you can touch. the language escapes me.
George Abraham is a Palestinian-American poet and Bioengineering PhD candidate at Harvard University. They are the author of Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), and two chapbooks: the specimen's apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019) and al youm (TAR, 2017). They are a Kundiman, Watering Hole, and Poetry Incubator fellow, winner of the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, and recipient of the "Best Poet" title from the College Union Poetry Slam International. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming online with The Paris Review, Tin House, LitHub, Boston Review, The Rumpus, and in anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry and Nepantla.