Because Just in Case

It was what I heard the adults say growing up, as a suffix,
often, to a sequence of praise terms about another,
khoda hefzesh koneh, or, may God protect him,
a pleading saved for discussion of the exquisite
or the exceptionally plain,
so long as the recipient of this purest well wish
tangled the speaker’s breath,
a verbal yearning that confused me for years,
since the Farsi word for protect and memorize is the same,
and I wondered why God needed this reminding,
why Iranians thought it necessary to advise
the creator of memory to remember anything,
the same phrase that reentered my thoughts
when I went to wake him for his meeting,
before he yawned good morning
his eyelids rose with the same eager speed
of a lift cord raising blinds, at the same time
his mouth divided into lips that parted like clouds
to reveal the silent beam of his tired smile,
and I wondered why I ever glanced
at a window for daytime, to a sky for sunlight,
so extraordinary and ordinary,
I couldn’t trust myself to remember it,
and I wouldn’t even if I could,
each split second of this second becoming past
by virtue of my witness; memory by definition
is just something that no longer is,
and why would I store the magic of this
in the space of anything that is not the present,
it was why I did not softly scrub my palms
against the stubble of his cheeks, and instead, 
cupped God’s chin, turned it to him,
make sure You get this

Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad’s poetry has appeared in the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, The Missing Slate, Painted Bride Quarterly, and is forthcoming in Silk Road Review. She is the poetry editor for Noble / Gas Qtrly, and a Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize, and Best New Poets nominee. She currently lives in New York where she practices matrimonial law. Her twitter handle is @mtorbat.