“Christ did not want to leave the body.” — Linda Gregg
It must have been hard for him to recount
the parable with her there—just shaved,
mons slick with suds, sweat winging
to her armpits, the serenity of a man
between trees—trees, an ability to forget.
Apple yields fig. Fig yields cypress.
It became a kind of therapy session.
She was in bed. Netting
kept the mosquitoes from her
thighs. As she slept, discovery made
its way in like another snake from the landscape.
She woke to a mercy that came in the form of a fish.
And they ate and were made aware of the beauty
of the animals. This, at least, is how I learned it.
Isn’t God a centuries-old sign of wanting,
the swollen remnant of rest?
Isn’t guilt the smallness of our bodies
against open space?
Aren’t you the welcome blackness
that swallows me whole?
Issam Zineh (he/him) is a Los Angeles-born, Palestinian-American poet and scientist. He is author of Unceded Land (Trio House Press, 2022), which was an Editors’ Selection and finalist for the Trio Award for first or second book, and the chapbook The Moment of Greatest Alienation (Ethel Press, 2021). His poems appear or are forthcoming in AGNI, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Tahoma Literary Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He also reviews for The Poetry Café (https://thepoetrycafe.online). Find him on twitter @izineh.