We left our homeland before I learned the names of my grandmothers, before they could teach me to soften pain with mosses, to ease the eyes with herbs. Even in that place where he led us, my father did not use my mother’s name. He forbade us to weave the threads of stars, to walk in the streets where men stroked the stares of men while their women sang in dim rooms and gathered at the mouths of wells. What I knew I learned from watching through the thin windows. I had seen a young man throw himself before horsemen, had watched his mother, each morning, gnash hands against her hips as her husband laced his boots and left for racing. I saw the strangers when they first came, the men who counseled my father, the ones the crowd gathered for. I remember that night, the faces that glowed with torches, our fat neighbor shoving aside his two wives and shouting introduce us. I remember my father, his damp hands bruising my arms, dragging my sister with me through the door, offering our bodies instead, saying take these they’re virgins . . . I remember my sister sobbing as he tore her robe and my own breasts blackened with the smoke of torches, my mother, silent in the doorway, weeping. But the crowd would not have us. They jeered for the gold not the copper of my father’s purse so the strangers scalded their eyes with oil and drove them from the courtyard. They told my father to take his tents and leave the city. That morning, as we struggled behind him, the heat was like the sun had settled between our shoulders, even in the foothills we could hear the city burning, the crack of great timbers, the screams of people waking to the light of flames. It was then my mother turned to witness what my father’s friends had done and cried for the city, for her own flesh. We could not look back, my father pulled us from her. After this, I gave him wine. And, as he panted, pale, Above me I clenched his back bit into his skin and found the sweet herb, the red flower.