leaving you,

by Aqeela Naqvi

the time has come for me to part from the sands that whisper your names. the lands where your beautiful bodies lay. the dust whose sweet fragrance winds its way through my dreams.

the time has come, but my feet have forgotten how to leave. and my tongue has forgotten how to speak. when I came toward you, I ran. when I saw you, songs of love came flowing from my mouth. but now? now, though time demands that my feet move away from you, they remain still. and though the clock’s chimes dictate words of farewell, only silence rests on my tongue. I take a step away from your grave but my feet are pulled forward again. I begin to whisper, ‘I must go,’ but am cut short by my heart’s screams, Let me stay let me stay let me stay.

before I came, you asked me, “Wouldn’t you want to see the ones you love?” now, I have seen. my God . . . I have seen. and having seen, oh my beloved ones, how can I ever unsee?

leaving you. is asking me to tear apart the sinews of my heart, leaving trails of blood in my wake. leaving you. is asking me to become a stranger to sleep, thoughts of you keeping me awake at night. leaving you. is asking me to rest hot coals in my mouth, farewells the taste of ash choking at my throat. leaving you! is asking this thirsty one to drink from salty seas, drowning in the waters beginning to separate us, reaching, gasping for air.

ya Ali! ya Abbas! ya Hussain! ya Musa al-Kadhim, Muhammad al-Jawad, Hasan al-Askari, Ali ar-Ridha, Syeda Masooma! oh grandfather Ali an-Naqi!

oh Family of the Prophet, the thought of leaving you is a shrapnel that has exploded in my chest. I am bleeding. I am bleeding, and I don’t know how to make it stop. I can’t do it, I can’t leave; so instead I remove my heart and leave it in your keeping – I slice it and bury it in the sands of Najaf, Karbala, Mashhad, Qom, Kadhmain, and sweet, sweet Samarra – praying that it won’t be long before I return, that this silence is not final, that this separation will be brief, that in the space between I will not lose you . . .

(leaving you. how? how do I leave? how do I rip my lungs from my chest and still remember how to breathe?)