Poetry at Sangam



Heart Runoff by Ladan Osman

I want a dress in today’s theme color:
beets and the rice they stain.
Cinnamon sticks steeped in hibiscus tea,
the cover of a book in which a woman is left
on every page, sometimes on every line.

The morning, abundant,
a notion that rain may pour into bus windows.
Strangers laugh and cough water.
Water from old pipes, warmed by sun.
Flash floods over baked asphalt.

A woman’s poems interrupt,
remind me while we write or sing
in memory of possibility,
an absent lover listens to nothing,
sleeps and dreams as normal.
He shakes off the thread you spun
during his shower. Sets you,
a jade-colored spider,
on his toilet seat.
Styles his hair as usual.

I’m worried about miscarriages
suffered by the lovers of men I know.
I can’t say I’ve loved any man.
I resented them in my kitchen,
looking at my butter, my halved lemons.
One man asks about my cycles,
how my blood flows, and when.

In a notebook that broke my mother’s heart,
a portrait of the second wife:
Diet, moods. Dates. Cryptic notes
on their short life together.
Across an ocean. And a desert.
Two betrayals when falling in love:
reaching away from your mother,
from yourself and to a stranger.

Twelve years have passed,
souvenirs from both marriages destroyed.
My father’s betrayal could start her period this summer.
He’s still annoyed my mother cut their tapes,
the letters he spoke.
And with the steady and absent look she returns
when he mentions their great love, his pockets and car
full of hundreds of dollars in quarters,
their abstracted voices talking, daily.