Kareem Tayyar




My Grandmother and I, Summer, 1986

At night the two of us would sleep on the living room floor of the apartment,
An old woman and a young boy,
One who had seen everything awful there was to see in the world—
A beautiful country undone by dictators,
A family savaged by the monstrousness of a husband she had been
         
engaged to marry
By the time she was 9 years old,
A body that did not belong to her but the State,
Something the police officers who once pulled their weapons on her
For letting a few strands of hair fall from beneath her chadoor
          reminded her of—
And one who had seen none of it,
Other than the things he saw on the news that he watched with his parents,
Or would overhear when his father would stay up late on the phone talking to                 his brother long distance,
The two of them discussing body counts,
Fallen cities,
Fields they had grown up playing in that were now booby-trapped,
And where the only children who now crossed them were the ones the military
          sent ahead
To detonate the land-mines so that the soldiers would be saved,
Except those conversations were in Farsi,
Which the boy couldn’t speak,
So for all he knew they were discussing soccer,
Or a mutual friend they had known as kids who had grown up to be a poet—
No.
The poets had all left the country.
The engineers too.
And most of the doctors.
Anyway this poem is about the two of us sleeping on that living room floor,
My head beside your shoulder,
My body like that of a seahorse whose limbs were tethered to the blade of
          seagrass that was
Your body,
The two of us passing dreams back and forth like a couple of prophets
Who knew that God was a night owl,
And that the moon was a holy city where the two of us would someday reunite.




Kareem Tayyar’s most recent book is Magic Carpet Poems (Tebot Bach). His poetry and prose has been published in a number of journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Brilliant Corners, and The Santa Monica Review. He is a Professor of English at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California. He received his Ph.D. in American Literature from U.C. Riverside.









                                    

 

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