My father tells a story about the boy who drowned.
Mud-licked dam: testament to time
unfulfilled. My father tells a story about the moon
unfulfilled. Going away and not coming back
the same way twice. He has nothing to say about
starving. Nothing about the dirt he drank, the bombs he
heard. He is a collection of stories
he’ll never tell. In the moonlight, he looks like a vanishing horse.
In the daylight: a dog.
He has nothing to say about the question he wants to ask.
The same one I’ll ask of the future.
About being the one to live
Instead of Saying
I pretend I am full
perched on that ledge,
ledge to unbind
lifting a girl
who can’t bear to be lifted
who thought the long gulf passable
muttering and changing
turning the body of another into the body of
We’re a part of each other after all
I am part him but don’t speak him
I dwell half-human & half-human
an opening: dare it. Dare
unspill & uncross a desert filled with horses
who never made it home
who never made it to her father’s home
never ran into another’s dream, seeking refuge—
gold rabbit, frog mind, tiny paper boat—
things her father said when dreaming of
wholeness as pretending we’re a part of each other.
A decision means more than a prayer.
In Dreams I am Always a Horse
For miles everywhere: flatlands,
trembling with wind’s work—
careless and indiscriminate. The fuel gauge is needling
closer and closer
and I’m taking a chance with my life,
imagining the horizon line
is the bone of your shoulder reeling my reach
like a fish. I wonder if this is how god
works. In empty gas tanks and tentative brake lights.
In roadway pleas to make it just a little further
down the causeway: a sensation
like reach without touch
touch without body body
with too many ways of loving another.
I can’t say how or why but the road
keeps happening, slackening each want
that tries to rise within me. It says something true:
you can’t ask for anything but life. Leave
the rest up to time. See how it changes the horizon
from a shoulder to a jaw. See how, eventually,
it does touch you back
one way or another. This, also,
must be the work of dreams. Some pressure
to return to the real always
lingering— even in the dark. Even in the dark,
I question the light. If time will run out like this road,
unaware of the tide’s wild wager on the rock:
let us make ourselves heard into living.
Let the water do its work on us,
washing away the lost causes.
This will all still be left,
whether or not I make it home.
A kind of comfort:
beauty is inevitable. Life is the thing between
pauses. There are those that have come before
me and if I look hard enough at the mountain
I can believe:
Some part of me will go on.
Even after this dark road runs out
A. D. Lauren-Abunassar
A.D. Lauren-Abunassar is an Arab-American writer, poet, and journalist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Narrative, Rattle, Boulevard, and elsewhere. Her first book, Coriolis, was winner of the 2023 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize.