In Jerusalem a dead phone’s dialed by exiles.
—Agha Shahid Ali, “By Exiles”
In a litany of safer places, we name hospitals,
highways, runways, where a body
is at least in motion. Sticking
hard to its own fable,
something simple about linen
and penmanship. The whole heart’s
at work there, drawing dirt
from a garden of artichokes
for the eventual burial, far
from home, against a quieted sky.
The body and its constituent bones cross
dark oceans. These have names
and take up most of the globe. Still,
they are standing in. Its smells
and inconstancies, its unwilled dissolutions,
leave our hands empty, leave our hands.
Our bodies go down
unwrapped, or all in white.
(In Blackbird, Fall 2010)