@Allah

In a seaside desert port
that wasn’t yet a city
our grandfather built a wide house
and called it gulistan
 
There were no roses there
just the new government
four children that would be seven and a porch
where he stitched shoes and mixed paste
for paper maché book bindings
 
He counted buds
and tended love birds
built their cage and bedecked it
in blue and green and red
foil this and gota that
a cage the cat got into
in front of the open water tankard
the children got into
during this or that fatal game
Loose with life
 
while their father cycled home
in starched and ironed whites
polished porch stitched black leather shoes
a narrow mustache
we now associate with genocide
 
What is reverence anyway
who writes the reverence rules
After our grandmother died
he developed a taste for Western sweets
Flintstones pushpops and cokes and nerds
 
Of all the things he typed
and the typing was profuse
none changed the course of history
 
Like the verses of the Qur’an
rendered in @ signs
which he used as a coiled pixel
taxing the Smith-Corona
Coronamatic with his gridded plan
 
Let’s hate the names of things
like this
 
Before they changed the world with typewriters
the Smith brothers manufactured firearms
Cartridge and ribbon
bullet and thermal transfer
Syracuse and gulistan
 
Verses laid out in rows of @
seven @s in a vertical row
to make an alif
@s like a fallen E
to make a tashdeed
He did the whole Qur’an this way
 
At some point in paleography
they discovered this sign filling in
for the A of Amen or Ameen
in a Bulgarian version   
of a fourteenth century Greek chronicle
 
Why and for whom or does
The Book short circuit this question
 
A smaller selection I have
is a better plot for dirt ministrations
just sura 8 ayah 46
inna Allaha maaAa al sabireen
Allah is with the patient ones
 
laid out in vertical reflection
its geometry a formal garden
hemmed by squares of @
looking in four directions
paths and hedges of invocation
borders of apostrophe
trees of hail and leaves of call
 
I wonder did he think
his helical pixels looked like roses
I wonder did he count
the buds in every verse

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb, "@Allah." Copyright © 2018 Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.
Source: PoetryNow (2018)