We stand like drones on the balcony, bones too quick
to draw rust. Gold wraps around your neck
and dangles from your ears. Outside
the men carry Jika’s casket and scream—
the sky a pink funeral. For a second
we wonder how blood could spill itself
over so many godforsaken clouds. Inside we stitch sorrow
doll after sorrow doll and beat them against the floor.
We make thousands like this, spray them with blood
then with water
and beg them to suffer.
What a mess, I say as we pick them up and do repairs:
suture arms and heads and stuff synthetic fiber
like scrap clouds into their backs.
We saw the box, you say, but not
the body. Not the white linen taut
around it, not the mad dust rise as it hit
the ground. We pretend it drowned and traveled
north with the Nile.
We douse the dolls in gold, load hundreds into our bags
like fruit. We talk about our mothers and
walk for days towards the sea.
You teach me to swim, teach me
so well I could have reached
the very heart of the sea.
We swim like we were born breathing water—remember
what we did in the womb. Swimming,
there is no blood, no fire, no echo of power
no echo of blood.
No dust. No box. We carry
the golden bodies like gifts
to the gods on the floor.
—Sara Elkamel (from The Adroit Journal)