‘Daily Prayer: For the Dying’ by A. R. Zarif

Joyce Chong

in the middle of this, your prayer
we washed your body
your body was folded and small like a glass
of water overfilled

I am always thrown by the ways we can interact with grief in written form. ‘Daily Prayer: For the Dying’ by A.R. Zarif in BOAAT Journal is just another example of the things we can build from loss. How strange, that we always associate loss with absence, the retraction of something, and not the having-gained, having-seen, touched, met? We measure grief in blank spaces.

a body is a long way of saying something
how can you be so small?
how are you still

Zarif’s use of line breaks and enjambment has created this rhythmic parsing of grief, reminiscent of the way the mind moves, overlaps within itself to understand, to feel. The way the mind struggles to access absence. The way language twists in on itself, inexplicable but not unreadable, not quite as formless as emotion itself, but not so solid either. A poem as an exercise in replicating the undefinable; these alchemic reincarnations of grief.

have you flown? am I fell, how does this feel,
now that I’ve touched you only twice
          before dirt and the roses come
                    to sleep

BOAAT Journal