shan by Momtaza Mehri

Morning papers say debris has washed up on the coastline,
and I do not know if they mean plastic or flesh.
Some of us blur these lines.
We, who live outside the membrane of being,
beyond articulation,
inside the hum of our nightly prayers,
everything we are fearful of has already happened. Is already happening.
I couldn’t tell you all the ways
land imprints on a body,
on a memory,
but each dollar sent back home carries a watermark I can’t ignore.
This sea has always swallowed us,
boats have always failed us,
land has always meant barbed wire and queuing and contributing and contributing
and contributing
until the pillar-box red gloss of documentation
lends us a humanity our fathers never had.
Shouldn’t we be grateful, brother?
At least, for this?
Breathe across a telephone line,
dream to cast this currency this birthright forth at an uncle’s feet. Know I do not mean to.
Know that this is what they name “luck”

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