‘For Daniel’ was written as a challenge– the following conditions had to be met:
Write 3 pieces
One using words of four letters or less with the prompt word ‘Simplicity’
The next using five-letter words or less with the prompt word ‘Balance’
Finally, one using six-letter words or less, with the prompt word ‘Complexity’
by Mira Mattar
Gram by gram heat rose, soft like fur or hair over cold skin to warm it only when it asks. To warm up here we have to burn book upon book. It is safe and easy and and we stay dumb and good. We cook eggs in pans over the fire and eat them with salt. We pour the salt in a form to keep us from harm and dig our toes into the dirt for fun. Each page bows down into the fire and each word like love goes away with a char on your brow as you lean in to read.
His body has been made. From thigh and knee to thick, white wrist. Even the water which coats his eyes is there, older than its Latin name. Under heavy stone he waits. Men come. They think their role is great. They try and fail, they fight and lose. They did not see his body in the block. With tools too sharp or hands too heavy they break and split the cube into only crumb and ash. They think they must make his veins, guts, hairs and nails. He waits in the quiet to be seen. Even he who will chip with care and grace at the block will in the end carve only his name into it in bold. The body’s name will be faint and small on the edge of the stone. But it will stay.
My hands fall open in doubt. Palms arch up hoping the wind will shape the frayed lines into clear paths. They are pushed and peaked into new forms and like sand dunes or cliff faces, eroded and formed over time. Then they buckle into guilty fists. The head line caves in with fear. The heart line bleeds over its border. They form no myth. No secret is there. I am lured by too many roads. One: sweet and plain as home, pulling with bribes and tears. Two: rich and deep as oceans, braced for new logics. Three: light and fine as skin pulled tight over pale, hollow-boned wings, void of the weight of effort, clean and high. Soon the white pillow and sweet tea I met each day with will be a happy blank. Then I will step out only with desire.