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poetry A Syrian Epic

“A Syrian Epic,” by San Francisco poet Muhammad Umar J. Salimi, tells of what is lost and what can never be lost.

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A Syrian Epic

By Muhammad Umar J. Salimi

Her husband wears the ocean
around his neck in penance for
letting go of their son who drowned
and later washed up on a Turkish beach.
She carries flowers on her breasts,
not the seasonal kinds
for bees to settle and pollinate,
but enduring grey ones
carved on graves.
Their daughter wears the last evening
she sat outside with her baby brother
before contrails tore the sky from above
and grey plumes rose
from the ground to bring it down.
Her family has carried storms
and evenings like the old gods,
and like them they’ll be subjects
of paintings and poems —
to be auctioned in evening fund raisers
and read aloud in ivory towers.

Muhammad Umar J. Salimi is a Pakistani-American Muslim poet living in San Francisco. He likes to collects verses washed up on the shores of Ocean Beach and admires stanzas hanging from the redwoods in Muir woods during the weekends.