& all the boys melt like hot metal soaked in hellfire–
each torso a toe dipped into the murky water of what’s
been unknown for so long. they are seven layered molten rock, half liquid
and two thirds fire, a trembling before it has spread. in the sway, the jaw
unclenches, the fist unfurls; whatever has burnt in ash and smoke comes
back to love the flames, to beg them rekindle and wish them apart. we say
we come from men so still the birds mistook them for homes. we say the
birds never really left, knew the cold would come soon enough,
even with the forest alight, even with the skin sweat-soaked
& roaring. what is forbidden does not unbreak the dishes.
does not wash the dinner off the walls. what is forbidden
but the hips, untethered? unearthed from the burial they did not deserve?
we say we come from men, still, when we mean we come from coal, from abandoned nest too dry to save. we say we come still, like birds awaiting
winter, a whimpering before we have gone. our sons are
promised burning & so they burn, until the chorus arrives
with the wind, until the movement sets them free.
AJ Saleh is a Palestinian-American poet and writer currently based in the Greater Chicago Area, where they are a student of engineering at Purdue University Northwest. AJ was the co-founder and Vice President of Kuwait Poets Society, where they served as event host and slam-master. AJ’s work has appeared on Button Poetry, The Brown Orient, The Hellebore Press and Furnace. Their writing usually revolves around identity, history and the exact feeling you get when you take the first bite of your favorite food.