Poem: Safe House

SANCTUARY where we don’t have to

SANITIZE hands or words or knives, don’t have to use a

SCALE each morning, worried we take up too much space. I

SCAN my memory of baba talking—him on

SCREEN answering a question (how are you?) I would ask and ask from behind the camera, his face changing with each repetition as he tried to watch the football game. He doesn’t know this is the beginning of my

SCRIBING life: repetition and change. A human face at the seaport and a home getting smaller. Let’s

SEARCH my father’s profile: a moustache black and holding back a

SECRET he still hasn’t told me,

SECTION of the couch that’s fallen a bit from his repeated weight,

SECTOR of the government designed to keep him from flying. He kept our house

SECURE except from the little bugs that come with dried herbs from Iran. He gives

SECURITY officers a reason to get off their chairs. My father is not afraid of

SEDITION. He can

SEIZE a wild pigeon off a Santa Monica street or watch

SEIZURES unfold in his sister’s bedroom—the FBI storming through. He said use wood sticks to hold up your protest signs then use them in

SELF-DEFENSE when their horses come, his eyes

SENSITIVE when he passes advice to me, like I’m his

SEQUEL, like we’re all a

SERIAL caught on Iranian satellite TV. When you tell someone off, he calls it

SERVICING. When I stand on his feet, I call it

SHADOWING. He naps in the afternoon and wakes with

SHEETLINES on his face, his hair upright, the sound of

SHELLS (SPECIFY)—the sound of mussel shells on the lip of the Bosphorus crunching beneath his feet. He’s given me

SHELTER and

SHIELDING, shown it’s better to travel away from the

SHOAL. Let them follow you he says from somewhere in Los Angeles waiting for me. If he feels a

SHORT FALL he doesn’t tell me about it.