City Where I Learned How to Build Silence

I am ashamed to be moved so by your soot
and sundried tarmac, the way you halt the hefty
skin staring back at me. Or how you brush livid hours
from my salt-streaked hair as I pick bugs from
the swab of sweat between my breasts, then crush exoskeletons
to the rhythm of my learned breath—in, out, in, atomic
listening to the blood pump whispering yes, I am that I am,
but I am also fearful as a flea trapped in a dark blue
balloon—my armor, my parasitic glow unspent.
Tree branches break under the weight
of a hand while ants bloom like stains on a kitchen
towel. What if, in this life, I can’t build anything
that won’t be touched? The Rubaiyat says let go:
Tamam shud. Thusly I slip out of the window,
scatter my eyelashes with the bug dust
on the grass that, all these years, didn’t ask
why. The ambulance puncturing the distance screeches
in or out, in or out. Even if I tried to give up,
my body always wants to give in to this agreeable
moaning on. I take off my pants to lie down in the mud.
Sometimes, the ink laps me up. Other times, hornets carry
their houses around me in silent colonies, piss glistening
from wings until their precise absences swarm me shut.

Aria Aber was born to Afghan parents in Munster, Germany. Her work has appeared in Best British Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, Prelude, Reservoir Journal, decomP, and others. She has been awarded the New Writing Prize in Poetry from Wasafiri, and fellowships from Kundiman and Dickinson House. Currently, she is an MFA candidate in poetry at NYU, where she serves as a Writers in Public Schools fellow.