August 2020

farnaz fatemi

when I kneel, I don't think of a god

I think of you, and you, and also you,

so long gone, now, I’m not telling your stories, 

I don’t invoke you to explain laughter. 

I have other beloveds nearby 

I watch to learn how to live, 

close to the tip of my tongue, like you were. 

You do not linger out loud.

You are not in my mouth.


But it’s not what you think. Now— 

like the idiom I’d only heard, but never 

bit into, couldn’t have swallowed—

you are in my liver. No, you are my liver. 

That’s what I can say, when I pray: 

jigar-e-man, my liver, 

teach me what to do now.


FARNAZ FATEMI is a member and cofounder of The Hive Poetry Collective (hivepoetry.org) in Santa Cruz County, California. Her poetry and prose appears in Catamaran Literary Reader, Crab Orchard Review, SWWIM Daily, Grist Journal and several anthologies (including, most recently, My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3: Halal If You Hear Me). Farnaz taught writing at UC Santa Cruz from 1997-2018. www.farnazfatemi.com

(Image credit: Untitled by I am nah, 2018)