Mother says I will know what disappointment
is when I am the God-fearing mother of one
who does not pray.
Somehow I became the daughter who owned legs that had
not prostrated in months.
I carried a mouth dirty with no room left for praise
until the ones that loved me turned bad.
‘Look at that one there’ I heard my friends say.
‘Look how far she has fallen’ they would chant.
And all the while I held the breath as if releasing all
the air would unearth the rot.
‘Open me up’ I screamed in dreams and then awoke thanking God
for the way the shame can be brushed beneath the covers,
away from the eye.
I think somewhere back there I lost my way.
The cold set in and the numbness became my body.
I think I’ve forgotten the sweetness of the 99 names,
And the way they give themselves up to the beads my
mother brushes her fingers over when she wakes early in the morning.
I hear her as her voice breaks over a verse.
Somehow I became the disappointment that wakes at 3 in
the morning to write but sleeps past the call to prayer at 6.
I have become a ghost to the ones in the house who gather
together when they are called to drop to their knees.
When my father called the sheikhs we were taken from our
rooms and placed at their centre.
Soon I am thinking about opening the chest and letting it out.
Nobody is supposed to fall this far off, I say.
Sometimes I scratch at the knees, blaming the devil.
Sometimes the sins are warm and come in their best body.
They are light in the hands.
Most times they come in admiration at how brave you are
beneath a God that is all eyes in every direction.
The sins kiss your face gently before they set you alight.
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