Five Poems

Aubade Before Birth

       my body’s all she knows 
of the world, her turning all 
       I know of her body 

Aristophanes’ lovers,
       all roundness and limbs, 
we’re a meld of selves 

       the gods will split skin to skin

       heartbeats joined, one animal,
soon two horses running
       two, two, split to two—

        *	*	*

while I am still your Newet
       your night some star-clad 
                goddess arching 

above and around you
       my voice your thunder
                my blood your cloak 

as you, 
       small sun god,
                tunnel to light

quicken and twist 
       in this pitch 
                once more 

that light will blind
                and part us 

--

Aubade under the I-10
                 New Orleans, 2006

Tomorrow we’ll pick our wheels, our home:
a Bug, a Benz – more space to stretch—

a van if nothing’s already living in it.
For the hour we’ve got, let’s lie down 

in this Cadillac, a half empty whiskey 
bottle, a bottle of Busiprone, some prayer 

beads, a candle, what more do you want
on this lowdown, flea-bitten night, 

shattered glass in the moonlight like stars?
Ducks nest in the rubble of the floodwall, 

sunflowers root in the muck. Soon 
daytime and cops will come creeping, 

sirens circle and howl. Let’s moan 
to the yelp of the levee dogs, 

windows yawning as cars fly above.

--
 
Aubade in Alexandria

Above the Sufi’s grave	
          the call to prayer rouses villages 
                           then spills through the city

Clear water, white linen 
		      against a hot throat

Heads bend to ground,
      to kitchen tiles, to train tracks

              Our bodies, blue in first light,
have finished their petitions

    Your people shall be my people, your God my God

Eight floors below, the water seller clangs 
       his pot with an ancient coin 
       found in a drainpipe

Go, love,
though my palms are hennaed like a bride,
           go before the doorman wakes

Go and face your broken pillar,
            explain your exile 
                  in my country, in my arms 

The door clicks,
	       a jaw snaps shut
                              shadows flee the stairwell 

Vendors and muezzins
             sing and weep 

                  Day arrives: a flock of white birds

--
 
Aubade in Beirut, 2006
	
Soon sun will struggle 
under a shroud of smoke, 
a steamer dock to take him;
he can claim another country. 	

She’ll leave along the coast,
take her chances on the road 
to Damascus, tie a white scarf 
to her window like a flag and pray—

They will try to speak of later, after
as they stand on the dock, 

but now they walk out to take 
one more look at the stars.
With all the lights out,
they fill the sky.

--
 
Aubade in Cairo    

we share the last smoke 
      of our Cleopatra pack 

retape our bandages 
      curfew’s still not lifted 

but the rooftop cock 
      has insisted 

all night 
      it is morning

~

Andy Young grew up in south­ern West Virginia and has spent most of her adult life in New Orleans work­ing at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. With her part­ner, Khaled Hegazzi, she trans­lates poet­ry from the Arabic and found­ed Meena, a bilin­gual lit­er­ary jour­nal, in 2005. For the last two years she has lived in Egypt, where she worked at the American University in Cairo and doc­u­ment­ed the rev­o­lu­tion in essays, poems and pho­tographs. A grad­u­ate of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, her writ­ing has been pub­lished in three chap­books, pub­li­ca­tions in Lebanon, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico and through­out the United States in places such as the Los Angeles Review of Books, Callaloo, Guernica, and the Norton anthol­o­gy Language for a New Century. Her work also been fea­tured in Pasion Flamenca’s play “Flamenclorico: Lore of the Miners,” per­formed at the Joyce Theater, Public Radio International’s “The World,” the jew­el­ry designs of Jeanine Payer, in Santa Fe’s pub­lic bus­es, and in SUNY’s Drawn from Disaster exhib­it and Paul Chan’s Tree of Life project for the New Museum.