The first thing I ever saw die—a lamb that took ten
long minutes. Instead of rolling into the grass, her blood
pooled on the porch. My uncle stepped away
from the puddle, called it a good omen for the tomatoes
then lit a tiny black cigar. Years later I am still picking romas

out of my salads. The barbarism of eating anything
seems almost unbearable. With drinking however
I’ve always been prodigious. A garden bucket filled with cream
would disappear, and seconds later I’d emerge
patting my belly. I swear, I could conjure rainclouds

from piles of ash, guzzle down whole human bodies,
the faces like goblets I’d drain then put back in the cupboard.
So trust me now: when I say thirst, I mean defeated,
abandoned-in-faith, lonely-as-the-slow-charge-into-a-bayonet
thirst. Imagine being the sand forced to watch silt dance

in the Nile. Imagine being the oil boiling away an entire person.
Today, I’m finding problems in areas where I didn’t have areas before.
I’m grateful to be trusted with any of it: the bluebrown ocean
undrinkable as a glass of scorpions, the omnipresent fragrant
honey and the bees that guard it. It just seems such a severe sort of

miraculousness. Even the terminal dryness of bone hides inside our skin
plainly, like dust on a mirror. This can guide us forward
or not guide us at all. Maybe it’s that forward seems too chronological,
the way the future-perfect always sounds so cavalier
when someone tells me some day this will all have been worth it.

Kaveh Akbar