Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

Weekly, the Saturday school teacher would remind us

that God is closer to you than your jugular vein,

how she would lift her chin and point to her own,

tap like a drum her stretched neck every time

she impressed this lesson, this sixteenth verse

pulled from Surah Qaf, and so that is where

I imagined God always, tucked where the sound

of throbbing and gurgling is loud, where He appears

and reappears in the form of rhythmic beats,

so accessible to my hands; closer to you

than your jugular vein I hummed when I spotted

the spot on his neck, a modest protuberance, felt

only between my index finger and thumb, this blotch

or blot, half dot, so many ugly words:

mole, blemish, pigmented, or as I stare at it,

a chocolate chip, half melted and smudged,

the color of pecan, drop of thick maple, a brownie crumb

lodged, pulsating faintly with all the power beneath it,

behind it, large heavy veins carry oxygen-empty cells

from his head to his heart — sometimes I pull at it

when he is busy, not paying attention, on a phone call,

pinching it carefully over and over with envy,

this beauty mark, a sufferer of my jealousy —

why don’t you switch places with me,

let me dwell in your space along the pounding

seafoam stem, the connector of my two favorite parts of his —

press my ear permanently to what moves between them,

adjacent to a mecca, every night falling asleep

to the echo of blood, neighbors with God


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