- Situations Wanted, and: The Kitchen-Dweller Testifies
Is there anyone who can be closer to methan my forefingers?My inner arm and rib?
Am I looking for a man who will let memake myself small then crawlinto his pocket as he watches TV?
He must know how to love his shadow,how to say "I love you" to even the peripheryof his body.
Can we be like wrists rubbing against each other?I will pay you with good intentions.I will be your friend, in the way mirrors befriend,
then grow water. But my face is a black mug,you can drink its water and not know its bottomuntil a bug bumps your lip.
If you are willinglet me show you how fingers know each other.Even the birds try to build their homes again and again. [End Page 128]
The Kitchen-Dweller Testifies
My husband has attempted murder with my own heart.Percuss my chest and feel its resonance. Tap once, twice,listen briefly with the palm of your hand, a fingertip.I swear an oath, once, twice, thrice,curse myself the fourth time.
Ask him about the night he told me he didn't know me,and untangled me from himself like the tassels of an old shawl.I tried to catch his nail, confuse his fingers.Let him, too, swear an oath and open his chest so that we can seethe nights he speaks weepily to me: I waited, I missed you.Let him answer for the hand he put under my t-shirtsince the first days so he could feel me walking.He must tell everyone here our story without confusion,with every sentiment, in falsetto so everyone wonders if he's lying.
He described a wall reaching far into our past and once I saw it,I couldn't climb it. I looked for a crack to wail into but there was noneso I wailed how the least heartbroken woman at a funeral wails.Then I wailed in earnest and chanted warm, warm, and packedevery good sweater I own in a duffel bag. I cursed myselffor leaving him without my papers and gold. How could I leavewithout two of my three wealths?
I swear he didn't follow me.I didn't feel sorry embracing an airport toilet.I offered my dreams as payment for three nightswithout response from Godand woke the fourth morning homicidal.None can verify either testimony. There may have been a jinnin the corner of the bathroom one dawnbut I think it turned away from my commotion.
If I'm lying may a chaos carry me into an unknown landwithout rain or tree to shelter me from desertion. [End Page 129]
May my mouth move westward and never return.May I die and find myself living in a meek woman's mouth:my territory tip of tongueto fleshy palate, from inner cheek to inner cheek.I'll know her humming, how it strains her throatbecause she refuses to sing even a quiet note, even alone.How will I ever communicate my feeling to her? [End Page 130]
Ladan Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Michener Center for Writers. A 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Life in Poetry column, Artful Dodge, Broadsided, Narrative Magazine, Poet Lore, riverbabble, and Vinyl Poetry.