Ever Laboring

by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha



I know you’ll fly, even on the delicate days,

even as I practice for the next ending, this clamoring,

marled winter ocean. This is not melancholy,

only a new country where I am, again,

immigrant, itinerant notebook, nimbostratus.

Once I served

as your home

and still I reorder these bones you no longer need

for shelter, the wandering rib

the molars fracturing

the tarsal cluster anchoring me

to earth. It is possible, always

remember          it is possible,

to cleave your own life

from the bedraggled structures where it resides,

to let it break

on the wind, a spectacular

banner, a brilliant crystalline song.

LENA KHALAF TUFFAHA is the author of Water & Salt, winner of the 2018 Washington State Book Award, and Arab in Newsland, winner of the 2016 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize. Her poems have been published in Barrow Street, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day feature. Her essays and book reviews have been published in The Rumpus, Kenyon Review Online, World Literature Today, and Poetry Northwest. Her chapbook, Letters from the Interior, is forthcoming in Fall 2019 from Diode Press.

Photo: “Crystalline” by Charly Wee