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When I heard that some nameless Antigone
had buried you in the hot earth,
my first thoughts were for your eyes and scars,
the red sand slipping beneath your lashes,
between the spaces where comrades slit you open
and fixed life back into your body with polydioxanone threads.
I wanted to reach across oceans and wipe your soul clean
of the desert dust.

No-one has been able to describe to me
the way a desert looks when it has been
doused in blood and set alight, though I can imagine-
the quartz and mica clumping jealously to
the life of you, the gouts of soul and heart,
and my spirit, too,
glistening.

I demand to know what right the desert dust has
that I do not, that allows it to take hold of you
by the whorls of your fingertips and the lashes of your eyes
and embrace you,
when it knows not a millionth of the quiet, adamantine
grains of you the way I do.

I shall tell the sand that in your sleep
you speak in Dari, Hebrew, Pashto,
for it will never know.
I shall tell the sand that I know
the touch to wake you from nightmares,
and the touch that calms your dreams,
and lord that knowledge over it.

For I am envious of the desert now,
the other woman, covetous.
It can brush your hair with sooty fingers
and strike roots through your heart,
while I must miss the warm, soft skin of your palms
that burns away now in the Afghan sun.




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