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I’ve lost the unspendable coin I wore around
my neck that protected me from you, leaving it
bodyhot in the sheets of a tiny bed in Vermont. If you
could be anything in the world
you would. Just last week they found the glass eye
of a saint buried in a mountain. I don’t remember
which saint or what mountain, only
how they said the eye felt warm
in their palms. Do you like
your new home, tucked
away between brainfolds? To hold you
always seemed as unlikely
as catching the wind in an envelope. Now
you are loudest before bed, humming like a child
put in a corner. I don’t mind
much; I have never been a strong sleeper, and often
the tune is halfway lovely. Besides, if I ask you to leave
you won’t. My hands love you more
than me, wanting only to feed you and feed you.
Tonight I outrank them
but wisely you have prepared for famine.
I am trying to learn from all this.
It was you who taught me that if a man
stands in silence for long enough
eventually only the silence remains. Still,
my desire to please you is absolute.
Remember the cold night we spent
spinning on my lawn?
I wore only basketball shorts
and a pair of broken sandals.
I tied my hair back and
laid out a hammer, some rope,
a knife. What I was building was a church.
You were the preacher and I the congregation,
and I the stage and I the cross and I the choir.
I drank all the wine and we sang until morning.
Kaveh Akbar’s poems appear recently in The New Yorker, Poetry, The
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