Fady Joudah

Plumb line. For the longest time

I heard it as plum line.

I adore a perfect fruit its flawless groove

revealing division, remaining one.

Your earth is lead

that poisons the stream of my memory.

Your phosphorus plumbs me to the bone.

I know how it came to this. How did it?

More than words, you speak in silences

that amplify white spaces

in which white is not water.

It smells. I can taste it. And water is life,

closer to life than dirt and stone.

Dirt and stone,

is that what you love most to taste? I spin and raise

my taste and smell into a love like water.

How will I go on living

with orchestras that conduct my thirst?

It’s been done before.

There are precedents, always will be,

and there will be Gaza after the dark times.

There will be gauze. And we will all stand

indicted for not standing against the word

and our studies of the word

that dissect what ceases to be water.

Why do you crave plumbing the depths of dust so?

Dust and ashes, I’m ahead of my time,

my time is only mine when you’re in it

with an open heart.

An open heart has two ears, two eyes.

One set for breath, one for blood. And the dance

between them, grooved

like a plum. I will survive. There is no better song.

My body knows my memory

is my keeper beyond the loss

in which you’re hooked on naming.

Can you be water?

One day you will be

that kind of divine.

Fady Joudah is the author of six poetry collections. He is also a translator and a practicing physician.
Originally published:
February 28, 2024


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