The Scent of Roses
“The shahid (martyr) is prepared through fasting and prayer. His attention is focused on being in the presence of Allah, on meeting the Prophet Muhammad, on the houris, on Paradise...”
‘… it is very, very near—right in front of our eyes. It lies within our grasp, on the other side of the detonator.’
They came supporting stop me from turning, one on each side, all of us silent and moving through the time, the plan, stepping on the marks we made on a map the minutes we marked on a clock the spaces we carved our shapes to fit. My body moves outside my will, a machine a computer I used to use I wait inside and look through eyes that no longer need to blink. There is no touch I am inviolate scourge of God, I am alone in a city of millions though they surround me, microns away but never touching, no desecration. My legs are weak but you will not fall they said a golden cord will hold you held in heaven and it pulls at my head which has no weight, void of thought but what is this if not thought and this is wrong. I turn to say this is wrong I am not empty but they will not see me will not hear me and my lips are still and my legs rise and fall and the warm breeze parts before me like a sea.
From a distance from history comes vibration a movement as we, I, pull away and the bodies sway and rock, judged and guilty, but I am in a web dampened and softened and held, a web of air that holds me like a mother’s arms, stay, stay. Voices fade around me though I see mouths moving lips arcing into smiles and heads thrown back in laughter woman’s laughter girl’s laughter and I turn and she looks like Leila who can’t be here, Leila whose face I shouldn’t know whose skin I shouldn’t touch in another life when my head was full and symbols moved at my command. The soft shell cracks and music enters, pulses, beats, memories and I’m in the dark another life and she laughs, Leila laughs and I see her black hair flowing, swaying as she dances grows smaller shrinking to a symbol to a grain to nothing gone again and I can’t stand.
I am empty, hollow, my body excavated of corruption, cleansed, a servant of God sword of judgement and my skin is pale with powder a scent of roses remember gardens don’t think of bodies, focus, but the mind is traitor like a serpent in my head twisting thoughts out of reach I’m not ready.
A new shape moves beside me, sits, eats, another life, onions and garlic and the roses fade so focus, catch the snake and my hollowness clenches my body renegade apostate and my mouth floods unbidden a river a lake an ocean where to let it out, from where did it come hidden a parasite unwanted, how many more, where else have I failed?
Turn again let them go from sight from mind from memory which should be empty but holds its secrets like a woman holds a child even when it’s still when it’s dead the symbols are there tumbling like crystals sounding like bells.
Still we move we sway and the patterns press the space is full with sour smell of sweat exhaust of the body fumes of the earth and I want the roses want the gardens want the promise want the skin and lips untainted, mine, and the cord pulls my arm reach inside my coat grip the handle wrap my fingers the scent of roses...
...and I’m ready now, it must be time.