From “Girls That Never Die”

a girl     buried to the chest
in red earth         her wrists

bound beneath the soil
with twine    a crowd gathers

to father her                 its infinite
hands      curved loosely around

a stone                   small enough
that no single throw   is named

as cause of death           no single
hand       accountable to the blood

the girl   undaughter         unnamed
unfaced         undone from the lineage

her photographs               pulled already
from bookshelf   from walls    her father

among the hands             his pebble
streaked with quartz      the first to rise

to carve the air & arc     toward the girl
the rootless tree          faceless & erect

& perhaps the stones             twisting
like fireworks                        the girl

their nucleus                   rise    & rise
for a time                  opposite of rain

opposite of  hail & perhaps the silence
a beat too long                       & another

another                    & then a rustling
of  wings                        above the girl

a flock                   thick mixed cloud
of avifauna          partridge & nightjar

& golden sparrow                  & avocet
& lapwing               & every other sort

of  plover        & ibis & heron & gulls
though the sea    is far & to the north

& the minutes pass & the girl is untouched
& each bird in its beak        tongues a stone

[what if  i will not die]

[what          will govern me then]

[how         to govern me then]

[what bounty           then            on my name]

[what stone       what rope              what man

                                              will be my officer]
More Poems by Safia Elhillo