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A Beautiful Child

after Jericho Brown

You are not as tired of diaspora
poetry as I am of the diaspora. Sometimes

I thank God that I was born inside an American
-made tank. Sometimes I weep within

the beast. My uncle works on the railroads
and goes home to his nuclear family loathing

my queerness from afar. He and I tend
our silence, a beautiful child

until it speaks. Another uncle is a guard
with two ex-wives and a secret love

of comic books. Tragedy made him the head
of his family too soon. Don’t weep for your dad

he said, weep for me. “You didn’t know him
like I did.” I have a third uncle, a mechanic

who visits his home in Lebanon every year
& now I must admit English has failed me.

I should say kholo, my mother’s brother.
I should say umja, my father’s brother

so you know which branch of the tree to cut. Or
cherish. My uncles are doused in industry, good sons

of the State. They get on with what needs
getting on. Language is their least favourite

daughter. They use their mouths for breath
and do their best to forget the world

outside. I think they love where they come
from but in truth, I have never heard them

say so, except to mutter they do not want
to pay taxes in two countries come on

one is killing them already &
isn’t that enough?

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet whose work has been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish. His debut collection, These Wild Houses (2017), was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award and the Kenneth Slessor Prize.

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