Ruby

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Ruby
27 October 1987 – 23 February 2015

On the bluest Monday
my mother calls me, her voice trembling.
Says to me:
“Your half-sister is dead.”

Father’s forbidding face melts into a sea of sorrow
drowning in regret.
Pondering nearly three decades of half-arsed parenting?
Your mother’s grief
as heavy as your last breath
as she contemplates how brutally you were stifled by the hands of death.

On the day we bid you your final farewell,
I look across the church to your little girl, who for a brief moment
smiles the gloom off my face.
(She wears after you that infectious smile.)
Your paternal family murmurs a prayer in Arabic
as you lie lifeless in a white coffin.
Malak al-Maut* has ushered your soul to freedom,
one side of your family may say.

Sister from another mother,
blood sister:
my mind keeps you unmarred,
wrapped in comforting childhood memories of you.
Oh, how I wish we could be children again!
Playing on the merry-go-round.
Going round and round.

*Malak al-Maut: the angel of death in Islamic lore

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