Cathexis Northwest Press
Rain in the Mikveh
By: Shereen Akhtar
An hour later, you are leading prayers. Your wand, gentle,
strokes across the Torah; this also leans in to you. Pounding rain outside
and on the ceiling wood. The low hum of congregants becoming speechless.
An easily stolen key and I am exploring the mikveh downstairs. Hearing echoes and
lamenting the dream held for a short douse, for the act of cleaning up and returning to you.
My ears prick a tap on the water and now it is raining music in the mikveh.
Puddles of toy trucks whirr and rattle in the air conditioning unit. The organ’s dull feet from above
speak out chained in the walls. Harmonicas start in the stripes of light below the water.
I watch the pool, contemplate Jonathan’s secret last embrace, wanting more.
Now my gut vibrates through my mouth. I see pictures on the surface.
Ships and boats carrying slaves to me. Prophets unloading them.
Their sweat mingles with my water. A song cooing bitterest of paths taken around harvest dances –
I listen but my head is paralysed by spirit ropes, twisting in increments, like a bat, something rising above it
fluttering over its own path, battling for sharper eyes through snowdew that mounts over
the tattoos you wish for – that I have kinetically cherished on the second body that I keep just for you.
After service we magnets orbit the sofa, you on the far side – untilted, handling your own
equinox. I leave with you but swallow pollen from the air. Bitter films
whirr loudly from communal hedgerows, project out the faces
of lovers who should have known better in the split twigs.
You unlock the car and ask me if I’m really coming with you,
and I say I can’t have you reverse out of here alone.
The roads are gigantic run off from where I am sitting,
watching your eyes slant. You push the horn.
Your wipers hurt my ears yet
I am grateful for sounds that remain.
Shereen Akhtar is a London based poet interested in the ways that madness and spirituality coexist. She has had work published in High Shelf Press Vol. XI (Nov. 2019) and is currently preparing a chapbook on international politics, queer love and the intricacies of the mind.