Siham Karami – Three Poems


The Gift

He came to us where no one knocked the door
and no one entered. We would never touch
because to him, I was still a child
breaking open shyly in the forest,
in my father’s cabin, in the river.

I never let my thoughts profess his beauty,
his slender darkness filling me with light
directly through my pupils to the brain
where I closed my eyes. But who can stop
the heart, the drum of life? His very presence

disintegrated me to elements,
directionless, aglow, a fever spreading—
oh my God, don’t ever let him know!
One day he gave me this worn little book
and spoke of ancient nations in America

keeping our true bond with lovely earth,
of unseen spirits which I too could feel
like his voice that rivered through me gently.
Alone together — how I dared not think!
How proud I was to never mention this.

The paperback with yellowed pages held
the hour between us even as I smelled it,
old and musty, pressed against my face.
I kept the gift for years, reading it
to find the lost epiphany of human

untouchable, unbearable pure grace,
the Navajo and Hopi taming ghosts,
the flow of river raising up my heart,
a love that tore my hours into shreds:
a constant drowning, always short of words.


Pier Glass Beach

Bass notes filter through our bones
and trebles rise, angelic, to the ether.

Heave this breath, they call out, to the shoreline!
Pearls descend upon us, weightless pearls—

black…white…grey…an inverse dawning.
We hold no more, no less, of clammy hours

than what the sand absorbs, its endless clinging.
What is this slow reverberation moving through us?

A silent oracle, a tide of turning?
Our time-lapse world elapses in an exhale

where all the dried-up photographic leaves
rattle in an ancient bagpipe’s hurling.

Our lungs relent, the tree of us a shadow
when we wash ashore, face up, as moon-cold silver.


Looking through the Bull’s-Eye

Between the careless lines we banter:
petals, sweetgrass, linen sky.

I think of oceans, lullabies
in conches, jellies’ lingerie.

At night our distant tides align
with Venus, untouched sigh and swoon.

I am no shore for human hands,
dear ocean liner gone so long…

Shall we recline on this bare thought
Of skin against parentheses?

A name emboldened, underlined;
an archer’s long trajectory.

The sleigh of eyes, a sleight of rhyme
weighed against this line of fire.

Linus at his baby grand,
the grace-notes drowning Lucy’s sighs.

Who feels this silken lining float
within my thundercloud cocoon?

Descending where the heart goes blind,
I play my cello’s moods by ear.

Inhale the steeping linden flowers
as you, my storm’s eye, duck the arrow—


Siham Karami lives in Florida. Recent work has been or will be published in such places as American Arts Quarterly, Measure, The Comstock Review, Unsplendid, Sukoon Magazine, Angle Poetry, Naugatuck River Review, and Right Hand Pointing, among other venues and anthologies. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she was a semifinalist in the Naugatuck River narrative poetry contest. More at