To Abel ||| Kweli

Sing your song sudden, let it be
a car door hitting the breastbone,
small tear in the pink of an eye.
Who hears it when you keep its hum
at the base of your throat?
I do.

I am the sister who watched a bird bury its dead
and did not understand.
You said “help,” intimated “help” with a howl
that caught in your voice-box.
But the dogs listened for it, and called to the ambulances
that took you after plans gone confused,
you alone on a stretcher
or between the cracking lines
of a parking spot.

Neither of us knows the best prayers
but we can pretend, we can let them strain
in the back of our throats as melody.


Ladan Osman is the author of The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, winner of a Sillerman First Book Prize. A Pushcart nominee, her work has appeared in numerous publications and has been translated into over 10 languages. Her writing and photographs have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Rumpus, Transition, and Washington Square Review. She is a contributing culture editor for The Blueshift Journal. She lives in Brooklyn.

To Abel” was originally published in Kweli On December 22, 2014.