Recent poem, appeared in the Marin Poetry Center Anthology 2020
I’m Telling You
my granddaughters are not held in cages with blankets of foil.
They eat mac and cheese, sip lemonade on the porch
above the garden. Their mother brings sweaters and warm pie.
It’s a kind of salvation for me that they are ok.
The girls are not hearing explosions, breathing bomb-dust,
not told to blow themselves up in God’s name.
They are not on a raft at sea.
I’m not at sea. My bed is not a raft.
My bed with fluffy pillows is in a mountain room
in a wooden house with a front door by the driveway.
My belt is not strapped with explosives.
My belt holds
a pouch with lip gloss, a pen and some cash.
It has two zippers.
I’m telling you the details because I can.
My feet are without dirt and wounds and bruises, nor numb
with cold from the water splashing them.
My darlings do not have to endure
scraps for shoes. They are not pulled away
from their mother and shipped somewhere
behind a wire fence—just held there
until they begin to forget
their mother’s voice, and who they were before.
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Poems from UNTOLD: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad, Monkfish Books, 2010Who do you think you are? Who said you could do this? Who are your ancestors, professors, godparents, your stewards of the seen and unseen? Locate for us your committee of yes. List your lectures, your papers, the degrees which announce your right to write about the Prophet’s wives. Who is your imam? Where is his mosque? If you are unable to answer a curious sister, who do you think you are, imagining Khadija? If there is no one to speak for you, you must defend yourself. I am a pilgrim, a pen with child’s heart, following the foremothers through doors shut on centuries of stolen words, across floors now hushed in Saudi cement, down steps to the cellar filled with the Hijaz story-jars. Unsealed, the jars open their mouths, speak to me. I listen. I splash water on my face, as Khadija did. Sometimes I speak as harshly as Hafsa. I ask forgiveness, in the way of Aisha. Far from the Great River of my birth, as Mariya was from hers, in Zaynab’s wake, I swim amid the Names of God. Like each of these women, I touch my forehead to the ground and say: no god but God. I am here with a message: conversation with these women will never end. <> <> [Hijaz – Western Arabian Penninsula, includes Mecca and Medina]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~unwrapped (al-kishaf ) A veil was lifted, and her stillness seized him there at the doorway, in a glare of morning sun. Muhammad lost his words, dropped composure into the well of Zaynab’s face, glance, and beauty mark; then struggled to balance his voice on the spoon of what he was about to say, so as not to break the future like an egg. And if the egg held something clear and glorious — as in God’s command, a wedding, Attar’s hoopoe and the thirty birds passing through seven valleys of love — then then it’s sure to happen: a tapping, cracks, new life here in the open, unwrapped. <> <> For poems from the second book: Fatima’s Touch: Poems and Stories of the Daughter of the Prophet go to Fatima ‘s Touch here on completeword.wordpress.com