Magazine article World Literature Today

Table of Continents

Magazine article World Literature Today

Table of Continents

Article excerpt

to Naomi Shihab Nye

The war broke me,

gave me a map of myself

like that of the continents of the planet -

separate . . .

calling each other foreign . . .

Arab identity, woman identity,

refugee, Muslim, immigrant, poor,

even beautiful . . .

identities . . . dent after dent . . .

the water separating my continents is not tears . . .

the sharks devouring my desires are not fish . . .

they are feelings with dropped jaws

hungry for the ordinary . . . not finding it . . .

water is wasted time . . .

water is wasted waves at good-byes

water is the sweat of crossing from here to there,

from there to there . . .

and from here to hearing . . .

I embrace my continents strongly . . .

I say if Atlas could carry the globe,

I can carry myself . . .

I embrace my world, hard

H and Ard . . . hard!

to push the continents closer together

but they stay far . . .

I think it is the gravity of the condition . . .

or maybe as a female facing the aftermath of war

I do not have enough upper-body strength . . .

to give the world a hug with my arms

after the armies were here . . .

each continent now has a climate,

a language, animals,

a shape in the distance, and a culture . . .

only poems are the native trees

on which birds put nests and eggs and write songs,

and only the migrant birds know that

all the continents are equally home . …

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