To Abel by Ladan Osman

guest-edited by Danielle Evans

Sing your song sudden, let it be

a car door hitting the breastbone,
small tear in the pink of an eye.
Who hears it when you keep its hum 
at the base of your throat?
I do.

I am the sister who watched a bird bury its dead
and did not understand.
You said “help,” intimated “help” with a howl 
that caught in your voice-box.
But the dogs listened for it, and called to the ambulances 
that took you after plans gone confused,
you alone on a stretcher 
or between the cracking lines 
of a parking spot.

Neither of us knows the best prayers
but we can pretend, we can let them strain 
in the back of our throats as melody.

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Contributor Notes

Ladan Osman is the winner of the African Poetry Book Fund's 2014 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets for her manuscript The Kitchen-Dweller's Testimony (University of Nebraska Press). She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Michener Center for Writers. A 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Life in Poetry, Broadsided, Narrative Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and Vinyl Poetry. She lives in Chicago.