On Ekphrasis & Revision A Markov Sonnet with Memory Leak The video game, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, follows an ancient Egyptian assassin named Bayak, and his wife Aya, who work to protect the people under Ptolemy XIII’s rule. Their son was martyred by the Ptolemic police state, and so the game follows Bayak & Aya’s quest to dismantle the entire state via a chain of assassinations. And what is an ancestor if not a mxn in the sky with a wound for a heart? Who arrives with fists & skin -thick beard & becomes the Alexandria skyline – *** With a wound for a heart, you arrived. With fists & hair -thick skin, you became the Alexandria skyline’s crimson – tantrum of stone & ricochet – slicing the air & – *** Thick-skinned, you became the Alexandria skyline’s crimson tantrum of stone & ricochet – you slice the air & – 3 bodies – night pooling onto pavement – *** Crimson tantrum of stone & ricochet, slicing the air & – 3 bodies – night pooling onto pavement in winded dance of silenced feet. In truth, this was your hands. *** 3 bodies’ night pooling onto pavement in winded dance of silenced feet, in truth. This being your hands’ inheritance: to hunt not the men who martyred, but the state
***in winded dance of silenced feet, in truth. It was your hands’ inheritance to hunt not the men who martyred, but the state who birthed them crimson – ghost-stained with blood ***inheritance: to hunt not the men who martyred, but the state who birthed them, crimson handed – ghost-stained with your own son, whom you once took to cliff’s edge & ***birthed him, crimson handed, ghost-stained with your own blood. The son, whom you once took to cliff’s edge & dared to jump – called it faith, or was it wind – the holiest love ***of your own son, whom you once took to cliff’s edge & dared to jump, called him faith. Or was he wind? The holiest love is the love you must survive for: descendent of softness ***dared to jump & called faith. Or were you wind? The holiest love, this love you must survive for: descendent of softness so dense you can shatter bones, did you forget your gods ***were a love you must survive? Descendent of softness so dense it can shatter bones – did you forget your gods razed temples before you wrote them into patient? For what is ***so dense it can shatter bones? Did we forget our gods razed temples before we wrote them into patient? For what is a god if not a mxn in the sky we made in our own image?
from UNIVERSAL THEORY IN WHICH EVERY FAILED GESTURE TOWARDS LOVE IS A SOULMATE FROM AN ALTERNATE TIMELINE Let’s say god is every failed history of speculation – say history is the space between two lovers endlessly out of reach – we feigned divinity & it got us this far – this is how I know we were Palestinian in every timeline – ancestored from earth to earth, our infinite loops of breath are how the universe loves itself back, perpetual – proof that every love language boils down to recursion – the only country I can surely Return to is a people who sent the timelines spiraling with their stubborn & earth -laced fists. None of this is speculative – there are people inside the people we were born into & all of them survived so many unspeakables. In this life, we will cry over foaming qahwa as you tell me only one of us can Return to the country we call home, before distancing ourselves a plane ride we’ll never take. You tell me all will be well. Say, we know the shattering of space -time’s topology as inheritance; in this way, we’re chasing each other though neither of us are chasing back –
George Abraham (they/he) is a Palestinian american poet from Jacksonville, Florida. They are the author of Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), and a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and the Boston Foundation. His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Baffler, The Paris Review, Mizna, and elsewhere. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard University, Abraham is currently based in Somerville, Massachusetts, and teaches at Emerson College.