The Friday afternoon call to prayer
steadies the entire city for seconds
before it trembles again with the hurried footsteps,
the women tighten on their small children’s hands,
their floral dresses trailing behind,
taking small gravel of the city with them.
Every mother’s son—in the street, ready to pray while protesting,
every husband off today. The teenage girls leave their books at home,
wrap temporary shawls on their dyed hair
(light browns like the architecture, reds like their small thighs at night).
The minarets glow with the sunlight, the mosaics
in the glass make sunlit shapes on the pavement.
My mother is dressing for her prayer.
Her once thick knees—now crescents,
waiting to wax again towards wholeness,
as the call echoes and floats,
the muezzin's voice circling the vowels
hangs on to one before singing of the other,
wraps around the pillars of the minarets,
combs the zipping streets, his tongue the only instrument.
Today my mother is too tired to walk through the streets
to go to prayer. Her knees crack, comminute when she takes any step,
each tick of her joints takes her closer
to the prayer playing on television.
I watch her blessings, whispering to clouds
I cannot see, stars floating to touch her
wrinkling face, taking her by her moon-shaped knees,
her shining forehead. The call ends, the prayer begins.
The shops all closed, everyone either in this mosque or the other, in unison.
My mother, cradling her fragility,
watches the cosmic emptiness from the window
then puts the volume up.