Rajiv Mohabir

for what loses shape

for najibullah zazi

I. dawn, new york city

dawn in sky lines waiting
to break into letters, placed into woods, spoken into story

i bear witness that god has no country
come to the good—come to this prayer.

morning birds recite salat al-fajr.

inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un
to god we belong; to god we shall return

your waking prayer is family to me. a face like
uncle vishnu, from my elbow to fingertip,
footpads brown pigment like clouds
into pink and skin daily slackening.

i love you, meri jaan, like muslim joints of lahore
meets hindu temples in jackson heights where we fold into one flesh.

i ride this body into speaking dream
and train car to the city.

flushing to grand central
through delhi, seoul, ciudad de mexico,
fruit peddlers with steel carts—
sliced mangoes, guinepas, big apples,
these are the borders you rode across mornings eastwards

without internal country, where do you ride:
grand central, rush hour time square,
numbered veins and disintegration
strapped on high school backs?

true words, let it be—the creation words, an imam
wrapped in your blood and skin.

II. apples

a plucked apple outside fourteen nights,
slackens skin enough to say
not this not this.

the dead's skin loosens, grey, gathers in pleats—

—there used to be life, there in those rigid hands;
breath in those dried lips,
will never again part to—i love you,
meri jaan.

the body slackens into dust—into the dreaming
of the surviving—throats continue the dead's prayers.

the smallest heart houses the memory of the faded
flesh, carried in the trunk of the skittish thrush:

big stalks wooding into song-line orchard
your memory will one day feed many.

a seed throws its first singing feeler, forgiving,
the earth bears it to break through.

III. kabul, february 2010

justice for all typed into the tin toy asleep
in the shape of a midnight crib, she falls into sleep,
clouds into the before birth night, contiguous with her kicking baby
two pregnant women bombed to death

US fourfold increase in night raids
civilians, children fading into borderland
sleep inbetween from where there is no waking
mess of strewn tin toy soldiers
greetings in english hellos
a teenage girl smashed under rubble
a policeman and his brother crushed together into one body

US distributes checks to buy the lives they broke

retaliation suicide bombings

IV. dawn

smashed cement, collapsed arteries:
meeting lines into power lines, wasted lives.

clenched fisted—never let anything pass,
new life grows deep roots, nourished from that which we let go.
what we hold tight demolishes us from root to blood to bud to fruit;
contorts us into shapeless wreckage.

you live on the city veins, calibrate murmurs—
palpitations according to the rigidity of difference
written on tongues, on palms, on skins

what orchard's water did your heart drink?

day loosens its skin into night—and i will cry
with you, because the world can be so beautiful,
i will cry with you, until my skin looses shape.

the lost loves of the pregnant, the earnest, the generous,
the forgiving, daughters, crushed beyond lifetime
their songs will be sung the whole world over.

allahumma ighfir lihayyinaa, wa mayyitinaa, wa shaddhidinaa, wa gha--ibinaa, wa
sagheerinaa, wa kabeerinaa, wa dhakarinaa wa unthaanaa.

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullai wa baraktaatuh

forgive those of us that are alive and those of us that are dead;
those of us that are present, and those who are absent,
young, and adults; male and female

may peace and mercy be upon you

let it be that may we learn to forgive the living.

Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 2 | Winter 2011 | pp 29-36