Jamila Osman’s lyric is oriented to a dominion so grand, it only flirts with our feeble imaginations.Ladan Osman, from the preface
My sister’s cat piles dead things at my feet.
Mice in my shoes, gray and stinking.
Their warm decay, a splendor.
I collect bird parts from the front stoop,
the litter box, the bottom of the stairs.
Soft blade of a beak, underside of a wing,
a paper thin feather.
a whole bird on the porch,
still slick from the cat’s wet mouth,
life pouring out of its body.
Already on its way to where
it is we go from here.
How easy to mistake
a symbol for a sign.
The fragment of the bird is not the bird
or even the memory of the bird.
The bird is a gone thing
flying beyond whatever door
my sister slipped through
while I looked the other way.
I have nothing to offer the God of this place.
A prayer pulls taut as rope between the thing
it asks for and the thing it cannot ask for.
I say I miss her and what I mean is
I have carried her ghost a long way and
what I mean is each of us is gone or going and
what I mean is no one wants to believe
the garden is dying.