Hades

Aria Aber

Where did he go? I asked.
Where do the missing ever go?

Imagine silence, the tyrant, growing thick
over the casket lowered into the ground
with nothing resting on

its leather—just the red daybook
and the shirt of Rolling Stones scented still
with pine and cheap cologne, tobacco.

An entire population sunk
to the bottom of the sea. Plastic forks, black boxes.

Daily, filtered light gleams
on the gold teeth of the disappeared. There’s a pile
of nameless bones eroding the soil

under a thousand hungry mouths
of Himalayan blue poppy. And bullet casings

litter the dirt, glimmering like coins. A cloth
that, weighted with ice water, slapped his face
the way a mother would in rage

and grief. The day they buried into earth
the thing without the body,
all the apple blossoms, I heard, floated

back into the gaunt arms of trees.

Aria Aber was raised in Germany, where she was born to Afghan refugees. She is the author of the forthcoming novel, Good Girl, and the poetry collection, Hard Damage, which won a Whiting Award and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.
Originally published:
January 1, 2020

Featured

Books

Life in the Algorithm

It has reshaped culture—but how? Two new books reckon with our digital predicament.
Anna Shechtman

The Night Watch

I first sought sanctuary during the Troubles. I'm still looking for it.
Darran Anderson

Why I Write

The legendary cultural critic on finding a life’s work
Greil Marcus

You Might Also Like

Aria Aber on the Poetry of Exile

Writing what can't be named
Meghan O’Rourke


Nostos

Aria Aber

Subscribe

New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.
Subscribe