“Origin Story for My Imminent Rebirth” & “Hammam”

Aria Curtis



Origin Story for My Imminent Rebirth

I am trying / to honor my mother / with some sort of happiness / I have been too vain / for 
waiting / to vain for leaving / anything / up to her god  			I inherited / 
her amygdala / her frontal lobe / her light / switch / tantrum / face / I have my body / I 
love with / my body / I turn copper studs / into quartz / isn’t this / what it means / to be a 
lover / isn’t gravity / just a way of justifying / the falling body 		  When I say  / 
I will embroider / the inside of my arm / with my grandfather’s moon / I think she 
remembers / only his closed fist / reminds me he dissolved / his crescent and star with 
boric acid / scars like rock canyons / with only memories of rivers 	   I forget everyday / 
all the ways / he was violent 			 I imagine / my own motherhood / I have 
been afraid / of my own capacity / to destroy something / or at the very least / leave it 
unfinished / like my mother’s stories she’d begin / and end with the same breath / once 
upon a time there was a rock  / but the rock is a star / was a river / and the moon 
dissolved / years ago 				and I leave my arm unadorned / to honor her 
/ and sometimes still think / that my body is hers / but my body belongs more to his exile 
/ and I am still finding ways / to disappear				yeki nabood / teeth 
stained smiling saying / now / and go / and alone alone  alone / do you know / how easy 
it is / to lose anything / and with no effort at all / you can forget /  imagine yourself  / as 
high as the moon 		I wake every morning and say / today I am going to love / 
every dream I have / about my own pregnancy / is less fretful / than the last / gone are the 
ones where / I sang through my miscarriages / and cried myself awake / now / sometimes 
/ I am able to hold / my own belly  / and say / there is more to this life / than gestation / 
sometimes there is a river / sometimes there is a birth /


My grandmother does not let me bathe her / she does not want me to see/ her / like this/ 
goftam ke / nemikham /  she says / I cannot deny / her / cannot stand to / see her/ angry / I 
sit outside the bathroom door / listen to her / pray/ the water / slapping the tile / pray that 
she gets through / this shower / without falling / without / catastrophe / a tibia bone / 
splintered into skin / half sprouted  / seed / a lost root / outside / the door / all my 
grandfather’s things / are where he left them / a Styrofoam to-go container / I am afraid to 
open / a train case / holding all his silver / clasped belts / a suitcase loose / as a broken 
jaw /  like he’s been exiled / again / how many times did he die  / I call / the water shuts 
off / she prays / in response / unlocks the door / shuffling from steam /  she lets me dress 
her / lets me / comb through delicate knots / in her hair / clasped together / like gold 
chains /  like teeth / I make braids / of what I  can undo / she makes tears / of oil on her 
cheeks / sets an almond on fire / to drag on her brow / peels a tangerine / nafaseman /   
she says / we both / take the same / breath


Aria Curtis is an Iranian and American writer from Atlanta. She holds an MFA from Arizona State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Southeast Review, The Offing, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Yemassee, and elsewhere. She is currently at work on her first novel.

Aria Curtis will be performing as a part of the Letters Festival in Atlanta, running November 8-10 at the Atlanta Contemporary. Visit the fest’s website for more details.