In memory of Mahasin Agha
“It isn’t GRIEF.”
came out too loudly
made a few of them uncomfortable
crossing arms and feet under chairs.
How do I tell them
that so many words in their language
rattle like cages without birds.
That ‘understanding’ for you is a perception,
and for us it springs from ‘knowledge’.
Do I tell them about Mahasin?
Who rushed to witness my birth
in a sparkling green tobe
that drew too much attention at the airport.
That she was scolded for it
on the way to the hospital
by my uncle, the baby brother she raised,
who when she died
only sent money for arrangements.
Do I tell them how memories come
in purple, red, green and gold.
The colors she wore when she lit
incense and laughter throughout the house
and danced when men were not around.
Do I confess we failed at consoling mother
who gave away nail polish after the funeral,
cut the long thick hair she used to sit on
that never grew back.
Do you call it grief
when the nest you fall from
disappears into the sky
and your lungs collapse with the sillage of a memory
that will never be done?
that isn’t grief for us,
we call that hüzün.
*Hüzün is a melancholy resulting from inadequacy or failure and weighing so heavily that it becomes communal ,resigned, and even curiously poetic.