Bassam

by RUTH AWAD

 

You want to know did I have a name for the baby.

But my body was learning a new          language: cutterage. Nictitating eye of moon.

 

I traced each word behind my lids

 

in razor-light white.

 

I almost forgot to tell you:                                a boy. A wilderness

of street lamps. He shone bleakly         and took me home.

 

He fell from a seven-story high wire and          I thought          it had to be a dream,

I thought          I'm so happy you're

 

not

 

dead.

 

Each morning I wake up a little crueler. Each morning my heart is

 

a vulture beating its wings for scraps.

 

Each morning it's                                 happy birthday

from the bottom of a river.      Happy birthday, sang the hollow-point night

 

that pulls back the red silk of muscle                           

 

and lets the rot bloom.