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poem on the day some guy grabbed my ass

i say “i don’t need a man” and it’s true/ but flowers. the flowers how i love the flowers / before they drown inside out / from their own perfume.

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday
January 7, 2020

i sit one leg tucked under me or foot pressed to thigh
like my grandfather did, like his sister still does

she has his face when she laughs and it’s disarming
to see him flicker back to life in this way

more corporeal than the sparrow at my window
or a stranger in the souk named roukos who plays his oud 

he sings bint el shalibeyah / a3youna lawzieh
her almond eyes / shou b’hiba min ‘albi / i love her / he slips 

into english just to say “i love you 
i love you jessouka”  which is a gentler disarming 

as that is what my dead grandfather called me. 
my other nickname “jeseeka al mazeeka” 

given to me by my other grandfather 
who allah yishfe is here still as dizzy as he gets 

he names me musician though i’m closer to siren,
a lousy one, my tail split double knotted then swallowed

as if i could hold a note as if i turned in wind 
a chime a flash a ringing a clink like glasses 

left to warm on the table until forgotten 
and only then will i open my mouth will i wind 

will i walk one foot in front of the other one foot 
bigger than the other one breast bigger than the other 

my whole left side, actually, due to my posing 
in utero and this is a funny story i tell to make cartoon 

the body that terrifies me in the way it disconnects from 
itself and from my soul, pardon me sorry i think i’m only 

allowed to be sentimental in a language i am losing, the romance
of loss allows me this honesty so i mean my rouh, rouhi, 

rouhi how she strings me, me i am beads 
and she allows me to be one leg at a time 

together or apart as the chair swings
then a dimple, my clavicle holding dew, 

the crown of grays that make me a bat 
obstructing the moon, make me older make me flicker 

even as i ghost. i open for my dead 
in hopes i don’t drain, just float a little higher 

and be less aware of my hips how they ring 
and wring waiting for a planet waiting for pardon me 

a big bang but listen listen i call no one habibi 
on purpose it slips out when i encounter men 

with names like flowers and men from softer worlds 
and none of them could handle me the way i can handle 

a bigass couch all by myself even as i break a sweat moving it 
across the house to the balcony where i will sleep tonight

and my grandmother says “what are you doing wait for me 
to find a man for that” and i turn to the valley

as the sky unsiphons the sunlight from its bowl 
only to make that light a haze concealing a quiet future i fear 

i say “i don’t need a man” and it’s true 
but flowers. the flowers how i love the flowers 

before they drown inside out 
from their own perfume.