SHROUDING CEREMONY BY TALA ABU RAHMEH 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 15
I love you when there is no noise, when
the roof on top of us doesn’t matter, when we don’t need stars
that haven’t shone in thirteen days, to taste the beauty of the sky.
You look so beautiful now that you’re no longer in pain.
The veins in your face have settled down and the ash of bombs no longer
bothers you. Your toes and legs no longer itch for air, and your frown
has let itself go.
I love you when I’m no longer scared of you dying, when I no longer
have to get close to you at night to make sure you are still breathing,
when I know the fight, I never wanted to fight, is over.
Outside the dead are on the streets and I’m concerned with nothing but
shrouding you with the whitest sheet. Like kings of old Egypt you deserve
nothing short of a wrapping ceremony. I want to wash every ounce of your skin
with lavender and warm your eyes and fingers with hot oil.
Outside a baby is dying under his mother who is dying under the bed holding debris
and the weight of poor construction (we blame everything on the occupation).
I don’t want their shouting to disrupt your cold slumber.
You loved me because we hated the same things, slimy okra (that looks and tastes
the same), the smell of red meat being cooked, and people who can’t make up their
mind. I loved you because you swung your eyes open like a child surprised
I sleep next to your dead body with the smell of trash that was burned next
to the right side of your face, the charcoal of our bedding.
I play with your hand, open and close fingers then hold on,
we are in this together.