Even When I Listen I’m Lying

How many men have I taken. Swung from the tips of my fingers. Led to a lake of silk-wet sheets. The lovers of gasoline, brick dust, the zenith of this twenty-ninth year. Their hair dewed with late rain. In a red pickup I sit with a black-haired woman who calls me mama, let myself lean into her talk of border-crossing, her gritty fingernails tapping my forearm. She tells me that she died on this day, in a past life where she was a curandera. The bartender kicked us out; I let her lips skim my earlobe. Yes, I am domestic. I love my husband like a fire loves Californian brush. But there is nothing like two women quick as jaguars in the Texan dark, our madness catching up to us.

Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in Guernica and other literary journals. Her poetry collection ATRIUM was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry, while her latest collection, HIJRA, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and published by Southern Illinois University Press. Her debut novel, SALT HOUSES, is forthcoming by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017. She resides in Brooklyn.