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Kadham Khanjar
Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Hegazzi & Andy Young
Yesterday I went to the forensic office. They'd asked for a fingerprint to match the DNA. They told me they had found some unidentified bones, and here I am again, circling like an orange on the knife of hope. Now I am at your home, Brother. I dust the plastic flowers that surround your picture and water them with tears.
 
The forensic report says that the sack of bones I signed to receive today is you, but there's so little. I display them on the table in front of them. We redo the math. A skull with six holes, one collarbone, three extra ribs, a demolished thighbone, a pile of wristbones, a bit of spine. ls it possible that so little could be a brother?
 
The forensic report says so. I put the bones in the sack. I wipe my hands of their dust. I blow the dust off the table, and I carry you on my back and walk.
 
On the bus, I sit the sack next to me. I pay for two seats. (This time I am paying.) Today, I grew up enough to carry you on my shoulders and pay your fare.
 
I do not tell anyone that I received so little. I watch your kids and your wife pass by the sack that I've placed on the couch. I want one of them to open the sack. I want them to see you for the last time, but you are so tough. Tough as bones. Later on, they ask about the spot of tears on the couch.
 
It's been an hour now, and I've been trying to organize these damn bones inside the coffin. Trying to complete you. Only the coffin nails on both sides know it's so little.
 
 
 

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Kadham Khamjar, born and living in Babel, Iraq, is a professor at Al Hillah University. He is a member of the group Cultural Militia, which reads and performs poetry in minefields, bombed-out buildings, ambulances, and at mass graves. He has performed poetry in France, Switzerland, Turkey, and Iraq. He writes poetry, essays, and blogs for newspapers and magazines across his country.

Khaled Hegazzi is cofounder and coeditor of Meena, an Arabic-English literary journal. Originally from Egypt, he is the author of Deer Do Not Dance in March, a bilingual poetry book. His work has been published in Callaloo and The Bitter Oleander. His translations with Andy Young are featured in Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond.

Andy Young is the author of four chapbooks, including John Swenson Dynamicron, and a full-length poetry collection, All Night It ls Morning. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Waxwing, Ecotone, and Prairie Schooner. Her translations with Khaled Hegazzi are featured in  Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond.

 

Autumn 2019

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana State University

Co-Editor & Poetry Editor
Jessica Faust

The Southern Review is one of the nation’s premiere literary journals. Hailed by Time as “superior to any other journal in the English language,” we have made literary history since our founding in 1935. We publish a diverse array of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by the country’s—and the world’s—most respected contemporary writers.

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