Dying from a different kind of arid
He leans against winter shadows
with such great sorrow, longing
to conjure her, as a magician might
drink sacred water before a birth.
Cupping a cigarette like men in war do
he inhales, feeling his fear will burn
right through him.
Outside an occasional car passes in the rain
wet whipping sound on the street.
He flips the remote, shutting the tv off.
Our silence bangs against the heater
he draws the blinds partly closed,
says he longs to bring Jerusalem here,
heart of his, held captive when
they banished him, forbade return.
Now he is changing, this desert warrior is dying.
His heels still stick out bare
from shoes worn as a desert man does
no socks in winter, backs forced flat,
My hands find his fragile chest,
he is tumbling within shifting sands
changing his entire world.
He is glad I do not believe his fear,
remembering he asked me to be his faith
while he is lost in eternally damnable dark.
Reaching out, he touches my face
blowing smoke over his shoulder as a desert man does
and feeds me humus on Palestinian bread.
Jerusalem was more than home
she was his lover, his self
everything he did, every battle
he waged every line he wrote ,
was for her, his beloved. His soul still nests
in the crotch of that sacred city.
He can feel her dying, she needs him
but he cannot go back, and inhales his own dying,
he no longer can imagine returning home.
He sits back and cries.
A siren grows louder, screams past the windows
fades into the fog. He lays his hand
on my shoulder as a desert man might.
At three a.m. the concrete city outside is quiet.
Sharon Lopez Mooney, “Dying from a different kind of arid”, from Unlikely Stories Mark V, Issue September 11, ed. Jonathan Penton, Louisiana, 2021, https://www.unlikelystories.org/