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Khaled Mattawa


Echo & Elixir 4

The chain inside my chest winds itself up again.
I stand uncertain where the blessing lies.

The scents the air held fall and are soaked
by the dirt beneath my feet. A memory had flared.

My hair tremulous told the news of this day.
The satin hues now shoot back to the sun.

The cart rides off loaded with pink, ivory,
bright orange and royal blue bolts.

Now I press seeds in with my shoes.
And my father sends me to fetch

a bucket of sand from the nearby beach.
The cart had pulled to our store

in the metalsmiths' bazaar.
Now the language is late afternoon.

The cartman's bronze muscular arms,
his sweaty unshaved face his tea stained teeth.

What happens afterwards is the same.
A mocking bird's medley, the hum

of a two-lane highway I faintly hear.
I am only forgetting. Remember that

when you see me walking this field.
Bolts of satin wrapped in clear plastic,

on the labels, the image of a smiling girl—
Chinese, red cheeked, with short hair—

multiplied, disappearing among the crowds.
Now the sweat on my face reads the breeze.

I had to visit another country to know
that the mule's scents were delicious.

I had to ask someone to understand how beauty
edged the gold puddle the animal left behind.

Maybe, that's why I stayed young for so long.
Now a crackling of branches.

Maybe a crow returning from tattered fields.

I remain uncertain where the blessing lies—
the chain inside my chest—

the rapture, the release.