Can You Describe Your Years in Prison?

Aria Aber

Over Skype, I try to document my mother'sbald-shaved youth — she has a surplus in truths,and science has proven what it had to prove:every helicopter-screech I dreamed of was my mother's first.Rippling my dumb hand, I wake up in childhood's crypt,where prayer is keyless as a foreign laugh overheardand on the Masjid's cobalt globe a angel?No, no...who am I kidding. When I say God,what I mean is: I can barely stand to lookat my mother's face. So, what if I've never seenwhat she's seen. I took the shape of her two hundredand six bones — I did not choose her eyes. Did notchoose to masticate the ash of witness,her crooked smile disclosing a swarm of flies,Yes, missiles hailed there, named after ancient gods.Hera — a word of disputed root — maybe from Erate,beloved. And because my beloved is not a personbut a place in a headline I point to and avert my gaze,I can now ask: would I have given up my mother for an alyssuminstead of asylum? Or one glass of water that did notcontain war? Her wound isn't mine, yet what I needed mostwas our roof to collapse on her like earth around stones.Rain, the hard absence of skin. The silence of it —no gust in my goddess. No artificial wind.

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Aria Aber was raised in Germany, where she was born to Afghan refugees. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Poetry MagazineThe Yale Review, and other publications. She is the author of Hard Damage, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.

Mar/Apr 2019

Gambier, Ohio

Kenyon College

The David F. Banks Editor
David H. Lynn

Managing Editor
Abigail Wadsworth Serfass

Associate Editor
Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky

Poetry Editor
David Baker

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