Named bitter, I reach for sycamore,
thirst for fig sugar and honey wine,
salve for mortar-coated lips. Always
my hand is pushed away, tied to the loom
by chains of desert-wind-whipped hair.
At the river I gather reeds: blood beetle,
I bow to Nile spittle and choke on copper
dust gone blue. Prophecy, I think, when
I prick my finger. Squeeze: coax
beads of red to harden like pharaoh’s
jewels and whisper to a basket drawn
downstream. It is the year the threads are
stained and I feed dates to the rapids, hope
my brother stays sweet.