Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by Hala Alyan

Instructions for a Wife I’ll be beautiful. I’ll wear the wrong skirt the right way— thigh-high and blooming to the crotch. You’ll pass through me like bad weather. Can you see the stitches of the handsewn curtains? That’s how I touch you. Another woman left an animal inside you; I feed it crickets. If I build you a piano, you let it rot. There is rage in the whistling kettle. There is rage in the lopsided cake. My name waits like an obedient clock, meant for another season, ticking away in your mouth. At midnight you are me becoming my father, an explosion of sheets. I sleep with my thumb against the crown of your head. I want to be forgiven, so here my lips bright as pennies, here my bra shed on another porch. Your country likes my hair long. My tits small as a boy’s. My mother taught me how to dance in an empty room, heels clattering on the tacky linoleum floor. My mother taught me. I’ll cry four coats of mascara off. I’ll dress the trees with plastic bags. Come winter, come Lent, I’ll cock myself like a gun. I’m Not Speaking First Please. I […]

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