Three Poems, by Solmaz Sharif

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Have you tried
rose hydrosol? Smoky quartz
in a steel bottle

of glacial water? Tincture
drawn from the stamens
of daylilies grown
on the western sides

of two-story homes?
Pancreas of toad?
Deodorant paste?
Have you removed

all your metal fillings? Made peace
with your mother? With all
the mothers you can?
Or tried car exhaust? Holding your face

to the steaming kettle?
Primal screamed into
a down-alternative pillow
in a wood while tree bathing?
Have you finally stopped

shoulding all over yourself?
Has your co-pay increased?
Right hip stiffened? Has the shore
risen as you closed up the shop?

And have you put your weight
behind its glass door to keep
the ocean out? All of it?
Rang the singing bowl

next to the sloping toilet? Mainlined
lithium? Colored in another
mandala? Have you looked
at yourself in the mirror

and found the blessed halo
of a ring light in each iris?
Have you been content enough

being this content? Whose
shop was it?



dear aleph,

I’ve arrived
frilled. Laced.
Softly etched.

Tomato juice on Carrara marble,
the ruin of it.
The training of the eye

only wealth can—
only wealth can
ruin one’s sight like this.

Only gout, plucked
pheasants, &c.
I tried to quell or quiet

my bile, but it grew
horns instead.
In the basement, it fed

from the steel bowl,
the congealed and cold
cartilage left,

and now I can confess,
there is nothing to them:
the Americans.

Not élan, quiddity.
A hateful people,
as all, and easy

to offend.
Send word, you said.
The line frays.

It is of love
I say this. It is of love,
I must say,

but not of thee.



what did you leave behind

A pool
with evergreens,

needles falling
into the water,

painted a milky
jade. A car
in the driveway.

A mother.

Another mother.

A cockatiel
in the hallway

next to the plastic

after beveled glass.
after beveled secret.

Letters from a
first crush
now dead.

We wanted
to be asked

of these things.
We spent
much of our lives


To tell of them
was to live

We rathered
and rathered,

scraping the soft

the gravestones
of our early

 is a professor at Arizona State University. Her second collection, Customs, will be published next year by Graywolf Press.

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