SUNDAY

MEHRNOOSH TORBATNEJAD

 
 
That Sunday, the women arrived one by one
with trays of sweets, parked their shoes in piles,
 
entered the sterile living room,
ready for prayer as they made a circle around me.
 
Hushed and covered in rosewater,
they watched the embers leaping from my chest
 
and waited for storytelling. My centered body
now a dimming campfire they held their hands over.
 
I spoke of our memories with the sober accent
of evening, still and sunless, lacing
 
his moments into a tragedy I was too good
at reciting. They smiled only when I let them.
 
I pointed to his pieces, stains on a mug
of green tea he never finished drinking,
 
scraps of clothes flung into imperfect corners,
a kitchen full of labor now rotting,
 
dusk, in his shape, sat beside me;
every space filled with his ghostly presence.
 
I would not cry, wishing to mimic
the prowess of a mourning First Lady,
 
though my eyes had sunk deep
into a raw well of themselves.
 
I wanted to wipe the echo of his words
with the shroud I unfolded,
 
make a martyr of myself
for his sins that weren’t forgiven,
 
pardon treason for the sake of my nation, but
grief builds a graveyard out of those who remain.
 
So after the women disperse, I wail, wondering
how to lock all my gray into its own casket.
 
When he calls later, asking for his items,
I picture skeleton fingers gripping my throat.
 
His voice is both hollow and humble—
a man that leaves always turns you into a widow.
 
The stench of death lingers where there is no corpse;
we hang up, and I begin again planning the funeral.

 
 

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