after Agha Shahid Ali
At a certain point, I lost you. I came to know it first
as a weather, the earliest hour of day breaking
on the bedsilk, its low rung of light, a pregnant silence.
Isn’t the after always tidier, divisible? I remember it from
the floorboards, the bathroom tile, the hours’ slow limp
toward sundown. There goes the train of pity’s satin gown,
you’d say, my body bent blue against linoleum—I believed you
better than my own pain; two-legged God, false prophet—
I am a Muslim. Each of your breasts a mosque veiled by dayshine;
I bent knee after knee in sajdah, pressing my forehead against
a thought of you. Desire is hilted. I held on relentlessly—your hair,
your shoulders, your body’s simple rhyme. And then, foolish,
giddy with moondew, I pulled my heart from its necklace,
I began the recital of your ninety-nine names, beads between my fingers;
my fingers that had entered, that had roamed, that had brought you
to weeping; fingers that had buoyed you in your own plot
of blue. I put my mouth on your mouth, breathed in and in and in
until I ballooned, backing away into a sky’s windowless dark.
As if by a string, as if promised, you kept me, tethered to our grave.