Amen to the tremble in my father’s fingers
when he slides a knife across a fresh-cooked thing.
Amen to my mother. She is versed
in the litanies of the body, unsanctified,
the brief temple taken down, another
stone removed each day. Amen too to the city,
the stooped shoulders of its bridges,
concrete cragged as skin. Amen to modernity
refusing the touch of a mourner—that soft-gestured
consolation is the feather-brush of wings.
I pull the black cloth from a mirror, Amen.
I wash my dusty hands. Amen to my face
with its mouth crushed like a paper napkin
left beside a plate of rounded food, the hard-cooked egg,
the lentils staring like a dish of eyes.
And let me say Amen to the words
that will not lessen the losses of parents
or cities, governments, whatever power
once loomed above my head.
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Jehanne Dubrow is the author of nine poetry collections and three books of nonfiction, including most recently Exhibitions: Essays on Art & Atrocity (University of New Mexico Press, 2023). She is a professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.
Photo credit: Cedric Terrell