You weren’t in your house.
The restive candles waved us in.
I didn’t see you climbing up the minbar
as I bent down, a dome to shelter you.
In the bites from the chains,
the taste for iron in blood,
picketers at your door.
You didn’t come when I summoned
the army of your names,
when I looked in your pupils pleading
to rise from under another father,
as he pressed and chafed me.
You didn’t come with sirens,
in the shortcuts of California sunshine and purple hearts
or when I shared the pulse of a lamp socket
with my sister, hoping to touch your veil
and be punished for it;
in the pickups piled with halal lamb
offerings at intersections in Tehran.
You didn’t protest when I renounced
us fugitives from the past
and braced my American lover tight,
not wanting your hand to slip in;
when I couldn’t reach you
through your censures and sentences,
when my father bartered with you
for my sister in jail
and I insisted you let us go.
You weren’t the one who untangled
my joints, locked in the Summit Lake,
submitting to the glaciers’ persuasion.
You weren’t translating the words spilling
from the morning’s tower;
weren’t wielding a pendulum of fire,
splashing light over the outbreak of red poppies
at Mount Damavand’s feet.
The stars aren’t the sparks off your anvil.
You mutter in the dark, like a mosquito,
thirsty cherub keeping vigil. When I switch
on the light to swat at your whispers,
there is blood, my hand, the wall, and I’m
infected with your attributes.