Home is your tongue
dancing around words I understand
but cannot pronounce the way you do:
with the deep, low rumble of gravel &
by mango juice.
Your voice echoes with everything I've forgotten, and
everything I wish I could remember
hoarse after years of trying.
The Arabic "ch-" you carried from Baghdad
the consonants that sit behind your stubborn half smile
chased me a flight away to New York
and still chastise me
when rooms are too quiet.
Even your silence pours into me,
on Sundays when my brothers
and I ate the same cuts of lamb and chicken
we ate every week;
your eyes, the ones I've only borrowed,
twinkling because nothing left you more content
than your sons eating.
You toss and turn and still don't sleep.
The nights I'd come home and find you
awake, lit by the rhythm of the TV,
kept awake by my ruthless indifference.
Those were silent too.
Your tears have only fallen three times,
each one to tell me that this manhood
you carried across oceans
was all so I would not carry it, too.