The Guest

Sarah Ghazal Ali

I heard his knock in my sleep and woke

to let him in.

imagine then, my heart in my feet

as I stepped out of bed and over a snake

that darts away so fast I doubt my eyes,

if it really grazed my ankle

or if my sight convinced me

of some artificial touch —

all the dramatics of a retina

eager to spin brightness from a long night.

trust that I am trying not to conflate

snakes with the first garden.

trying not to fixate on capacity,

on travelers becoming conquerors

or patterns becoming means

for celestial navigation,

trying to focus on the guest, patient,

waiting behind the door.

the Bedouins dubbed him

            Tariq — a morning star.

            a man mapping the sand

            of a dream.

there is a room — I touched its walls.

a man — his knock rustles behind my eyes.

there is a diaphanous dream leaking

through the gap under my door.

I blame the trees for their wood

and wonder if he’s tired from walking.

the grass. the sky. if his eyes darken

with the night. I press hard against mine.


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