Poetry by Claudia F. Saleeby Savage
If you cannot keep that smell of rosemary on your palms, tea warm in your
morning mug, or stop your daughter’s howl when the soup bowl tips, swallow
this sorrow and spit out birds. My daughter gulps air to better voice her throat’s
vibration. Her belly’s taut drum. The contours of my face mountain under
her gaze. Outside a woodpecker searches for rot in a telephone pole. Her
fingers enter the belly button. A world tucked in worlds tucked in worlds.
In mine there are borders of guns. Refusals. A veil could mean your children
starve. Sunlight honeys my daughter’s hair as I sponge the floor. In the other
room my husband’s jaw works breath into his horn. Somewhere someone
always struggles more. Maybe it is you. Maybe this year sorrow or anger held
your heart under water. The bitter, hot oolong feels necessary to my throat,
same as my girl holding her arms up when I least want to give. I’ll lift her. Inhale
her cheek. Love is already too brief.
Claudia F. Saleeby Savage is part of the performance duo Thick in the Throat, Honey and co-runs a parent-artist podcast of the same name. Her most recent collection of poetry is Bruising Continents (Spuyten Duyvil) with other recent work in BOMB, Denver Quarterly, Columbia, Nimrod, Water-Stone Review, and Anomaly (the interview series “Witness the Hour: Arab American Poets Across the Diaspora”). She is a 2018-2021 Black Earth Institute Fellow, a progressive think tank. Her collaboration, reductions, with visual artist Jacklyn Brickman, is forthcoming in 2020. She teaches privately and as a Writer in the Schools and lives with her husband and daughter in Portland.