I bury more elders and shovel dirt onto their coffins.
The funeral prayer still escapes my memory.
I am reminded of its necessity each time I stand
shoulder to shoulder with those who stand for the dead.

Someone will vouch for them, volunteer to pay
their debts, be comforted by strangers and friends
and we will stand in the rain if we must,
palms to the sky like bewildered small men.

I have never once soaked the leaves of the neem tree
in water and proceeded to drink, but the moving years
are coming closer to the taste. I can imagine
the bitterness in my throat and can pray for clean blood.

I am told onions do similar work by my grandmother
whose arms are still a house of God. I have lost hairs
as if they were opinions, found a question lingering
for each adage no longer true:

——–Who was Mansur Hallaj?
——–Is my blood spilt in Kashmir?
——–What of Baghdad remains?
——- Is Madlib the g.o.a.t?