Two Poems by Sahar Muradi

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

12 Step Cell

Start with the palms of your hands
Find the faintest branch
Take your fourth fingers
Touch them to your thumbs
Feel how unused they are
Remember the small of your lip
Where your breath gathers
It still gathers
Notice how your hand fits your neck
Your neck your hand
Think of your neck in boyhood
Its hairs rising with a kiss
Tender as a baby toe
Do not think of your baby
Study your nails
How they return consistently
How the body affirms itself
Trace your navel
Your nipple
The net of your manhood
These are your beginnings
Reckon your blinking
How many per minute
How many per hour
Did you ever think how many times in your life
And empty of your will?
That is what your father meant by God
Do not think of your father

See the veins on the backs of your hands
In the alleys of your arms
No city moves as fast
Remember your body in the ocean
Rising and falling
Rising and falling
Being taken against yourself
Being submerged
Removed from the sun
Far from sound
Remember the panic
Remember how the ocean did not panic
Feel the hollow of your foot
The small roof it makes
A tunnel for the ants
Those beads of dedication
They know nothing of leaving
Of closing the sail
Lower your gaze



In the gray milk gaze of your beginning
I see the branches gather
Your first reckoning with light
its brimless hat, its unmitigated news
and an origin to wish back to 

Now the branches are gathering
the shadows are passing
drumming mountains fitted with stars
made stars by the blush
of your soft balloon

Father is holding you
beholding your accordion
in fits of certain being
that shame the rest of us
in our having been
and outgrown the wonder

And all that is crooked
bone, sight, and sound
meets your pounding instrument
arching toward planted stars

Until everything shatters
the squawk of a small pink urgent
and mother wolves you out
with white patience we remember

How your thousand faces
the far cells of your body flicker
like an athlete finding new meaning
you beg us back

Photo of Sahar Muradi by Krista Fogle

Photo of Sahar Muradi by Krista Fogle

Sahar Muradi is a NYC-based writer, performer, and educator. She is the author of the chapbook [ G A T E S ] from Black Lawrence Press and co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press). Sahar is co-founder of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association and has been the recipient of the Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award, a Kundiman Poetry Fellowship, and an Asian American Writers’ Workshop Open City Fellowship. Her work has appeared most recently in The Origins Journal, KAF, and Brooklyn Rail. She has an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, an MPA in international development from NYU, and a BA in creative writing from Hampshire College. Sahar works in the poetry and education programs at City Lore and dearly believes in the bottom of the rice pot. Find Sahar here.