For Hasna Henna and the Rohingya
Lice? My aunt once drew a comb through my hair steady;
she wouldn’t let what feeds on blood eat my inner tree.
Where now is the word for such intimacy? I know it still,
but all I see are jungles burnt of our rarest trees.
My point is: it takes a while to say, “I am a fire hazard,” or,
“a household of rare birds” is another way to say tree.
I wrote one draft of this poem, then she died. Will I
forget her name, Hasna Henna? Let’s smell a tree;
night-blooming jasmine, o-so-heavenly! A sapling
succeeds by flourishing from a tree’s seed.
How else to perfume these needs we breathe? A sapling
of course = a small and soft tree (i.e. baby tree).
I grieve the rice she fed me off a palm leaf.
Only now can I fully marvel: how finely formed is a tree!
Someone I loved said to stop with the oceans in my poems —
well, oceans + oceans + oceans! We drown so many trees.
(Night blooming tree = baby tree = once and future tree.)
Lately, all I think about are trees.
Read this again to replace tree with refugee.
Tarfia = joy in the margins + one who lies to protect trees.