Maged Zaher / The &

The & operator computes the address of memory 


I sleep
My memory scatters all over my being
Fragments come up
I can’t fathom them
It pains me
I shiver

The ampersand is my dream
The ampersand is Joseph and Potiphar and his wife in a sexy threesome that I filmed in my memory since I was twelve reading the Bible

The & jumps by eight or sixteen but not by thirteen because someone will betray me and Jesus, we are the ones splitting vegan food in a jail cell

The & is taking me different places

How I find myself now without passion for my memory. Downtown Cairo, where I grew up, stopped meaning, except for a familiarity. And Seattle, oh Seattle, where I stitched so many &&&&&&& together, Seattle meant the coldness of cold lovers. I am dead. I am also scared from meeting God or Joseph the cute one or Potiphar the cuckold and the drop-dead gorgeous wife coming to visit me on Sunday while I am lying dead from depression. She tells me her fantasies and I lick her until she screams and I feel useful. I am the one with bad memories, all that I remember has lead to my illness 

We are not exact or autonomous
We are part of a bigger single creature

Our conception of ourselves
And our behavior
What we utter
This pain is graduating us
Into hell
Thanks God
For the permission to be

An amputated man crawls asking for money in Zamalek streets and today he stops by the blue collar coffeeshop and orders tea in a commanding voice

The address-of operator expressions have the form
& expr(1)
& class :: member (2)
Each is a member of a class
Today I am combating insomnia
By drinking coffee
I am tired of my illness
Of my medications
That I take daily
I need a woman
To hide in
To have her think kindly
Of my existence
I want to vanish
In her
As I cry
Asking some being
For mercy

My mom
Told me
As she saw
That I let the cockroach
Run away
You gonna let him
Live and be okay
I said yes
Her heart
Enough to take care of a city

One of the perks of death
Is that I might see you mother
And we can talk
About our memories

God is love
God is just
God is mathematical 

I am always afraid
I am afraid
Afraid always
Wherever you look
I am afraid



Maged Zaher’s “The &” is published in Issue 3.47: 50th Anniversary Issue 2/3 (Summer 2022). Order the issue here to read the full piece. 


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