READING RILKE IN BERLIN
I crippled into English the way my father clutched
his valise at the airport, defeated and un-American.
It took me twelve strange springs to know: nothing
occurs out of a sudden. How do I let it go?
Little has been purloined from me and the ghosts
of childhood still sibilate by which I mean
nobody has touched me on my innermost parts.
At the accent reduction class, my teacher
instructed me to invert my tongue like in love.
So, I lay at a pavement. Under your elegy. In a bridge.
Such starkness the want to put inside me a perfect sentence.
What would have Lou Salome done?
I absolved every year around the sun
knowing there is an animal smell
hooked to a line leading past a border I am not going
to cross. But what is exile exactly. What exactitude.
Father says howa for hour, allo for hello.
Father says iz gud, don’t come bag, eat frood, green card.
If I could explain to him the difference between excite and exit
maybe others too will hear the law in Allah. When they asked
my mother where are you from? She smiled and replied:
fine, ou hare yu? Oh, I shoved my hand right through
the officer’s mouth and ripped out his tongue,
placed it under my pillow, waited
for my blood to bloom new.