For my cousin Bayan, 1994-2013 

My ama buries her first son      according to the Qur’an—
in a white shroud, no preservative,     no makeup, no wake.

Died on Impact. His friend was driving.        She asks Allah to hide the image
of his body lunging through glass,     both breaking, whispers

his name in a thick tongue      as dirt darkens. Bayan

means clear, lucid, distinct in Arabic.            She recalls naming him
as he emerged, alive, definite      in wetness and warmth,

obvious compared      to the tiny bodies before him,
blood-born, unbreathing, preened      from my ama’s airtight hope.

As the last of the dirt      is smoothed over his grave,
son re-enters mother      on the same path he left—

pushes past her ribs, pulls sun      down into her womb, illumines
pray, pray, pray. He grows over      a trellis of the three before

which never arrived,      curls out of her throat in vines
with fruit-hung limbs to protect         a family that outlives him,

creates a shady space for them           to chew dates and recite:

In the evening, do not anticipate morning.     In the morning, do not anticipate evening.
Be in this world as if you were a stranger      or a traveler on the road.


Dana Alsamsam is the author of a chapbook, (in)habit (tenderness lit, 2018), and her poems are published or forthcoming in Bone Bouquet, The Massachusetts Review, North American Review, Gigantic Sequins, Tinderbox Poetry, The Boiler Journal, Salamander, BOOTH and others. Her work has been supported by a fellowship from Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.