Prayer for the Living

Go to the mother,
to the father, to the house
where no trees grow,
 
to the bedroom, the door
closed, to her fear
and to his fear,
 
and their shame,
their longing, and to their bodies,
their bodies young,
 
their bodies separate,
their bodies together.
How far must you
 
go back? Her womb.
Her child body
and his child body.
 
Go to first hairs.
To flesh, chests, arms, faces,
buttocks, and stomachs.
 
There, a wrinkle.
There, color,
nipples, and bellybuttons.
 
Go to the eyes,
see what she sees
and what he sees.
 
To the fingertips,
which want what
the eyes have made
 
their own. Go to want,
to love, to what wants
more than love.
 
Go to sins.
What are your sins?
Go to where the mother
 
is not mother, the father
is not father, and kiss her lips,
and kiss his mouth.
 
Do not be ashamed
or afraid.
The past is a strange land.
 
Go because you can.
Go because you can
come back.

Hayan Charara, "Prayer for the Living" from Something Sinister.  Copyright © 2016 by Hayan Charara.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Source: Something Sinister (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016)
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