Siwar Masannat

from What meat is it we need?


In my dream, geography helped,

straight line inclined. The British & French first

designed by pencil: borders’ edges

          sharp as a new needle.


Fatigue, not muscle, weakness, some signs.

All distance measures by you, yet not:


Wigs she wore as a younger mother—

that was fashion. Scarves, crisscrossed

back & cat framed sunglasses.


Some borders do not stretch.

I’ve tried, grabbed their ends across earth, twice—


Instead this drip, transient fatigue, prolonged

clouds, her persistent cough. Here snow

          appears green, blades sharpened to death.


Your dream seeps into my dream

          & this time no body

watches you die, free

falling height to the ground. 


        My meat flesh now tender—
When dehydrated thumb and
forefinger pinch joint skin, it sticks up.
               Din of women. Knuckled wind pipe—
               her pain loud howl—high pitched—      
                             her legs bled water.

Water featured in border escape
crossings as a tossed small bottle
or scattering canon sprays.                           The missing sandal on the small girl’s left foot.

Consider this:

                         A snake shed its skin orange.
                         The many rinds of prisoners.
                         Holy crawl to erase
                         penciled nation lines—
                         one for a thousand bills—
We understand:                  this crusade war to take a while  
and people must be patient, jumpsuit-dressed,
captured, & recaptured by lens, illumined.

In my dream they pulled threads out of the sun’s nostril—
          birthed dangling bodies of bone, skin
          estranged from its meat shed.

          When she had passed who’d become him on a street she first
spoke good evening—for well, abundance, benevolence, affluence—for kindness.
          The first time my neck saw your jaw
wet.                                            Now
dehydrated                           time now pinned.            

          I see my nose in its full
edges blurred in sight
fat: carved flesh promising
meat of breath.         Yet,
consider that in my dream I carried
                                 noose to hang to inverted café lamps:
                                 decorative green gas gasket
                                         gripped by ceiling, hung off metal pipes.

         My face round and as if softness seizes us—                      I won’t make a you I loved
tied:       gait of bodies policed—
              the many enemies we have—

agape, the many scales we may skin           off our fingertips.             

                             Or, before eyes
                             earthquake—                      I’ll split
                            my mouth open:                your scent, that soap. 


perhaps it means,            here is my heart for you
or             what of the world, you, what of your eyes, your forearms—       

to move a Storm to Hope with   very good planning, very precise execution

notoriety of torture, images smuggled by Cesar the United
Nations displayed:                                              woman with numbers
on forehead, dead in a land of dead bodies         with numbers
on foreheads                                         —brigades not food in camps   

image of tourists surrounding
a floating, smuggled body—

no dismemberment this time: arm
of the body next in number looked starved
           clavicle so sharp

by the courage of our pilots,
                           our sailors, our soldiers

of death                 how it                      fits in time there were times
I couldn’t fit—                                       a grief anticipating grief
all mine or for you                              or must be           (I haven’t yet stepped up)

—             brown eyes turned milky with age of memory loss diluted
                 but hers pretended sharp

                 here is my heart for you to accessorize with:
ventricle necklace, aortic bracelet                                            
wear it on your wrist       you who dare return      

elegy      or a Pepsi for one quarter or less
at the rest of the martyr

                 when I took my pants off you liked        the hurriedness of it,     you        
and then we’d go—door shut—for hours               we looking at cats fucking      

Siwar Masannat

Siwar Masannat is an Arab writer from Jordan. She holds degrees from the University of Jordan and George Mason University. Her poetry collection, 50 Water Dreams, chosen by Ilya Kaminsky, was published by Cleveland State Poetry Center. Siwar is a cofounder of Gazing Grain Press, an inclusive feminist chapbook publisher. She is currently pursuing a PhD in poetry at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Her poems have appeared in Eat Local::Read Local, Phantom, and Denver Quarterly, among others.