Alif. Lām. Mīm.

Morning’s glorious sclera peels night like peach skin.
The casual tugging of a hangnail accentuates each hamzah.

There is pain in meaningless recitation—
when the bearded preacher arrives

at the house before the milkman, it’s too early
for children to memorize sounds unable to be translated,

struck into meaning from only his well-meaning
bamboo discipline stick.

The girl and boy sit on a sofa covered with linen
to receive their Arabic lessons. The girl’s hairline

itches in her hijab as her head wanders to a future
where the adhaan is sung by women, and

girls and boys are not separated by guava
green curtains on snake silver rods.

The boy is a muted parrot fish.
Creation myths fly into the window and drop,

flop as dying fish before they are lost
in the depths, like the leeches the girl and boy

were warned about before splashing
barefoot through mud puddles.

One time, the girl and boy didn’t listen,
and their feet were bled shallow, shallower.

Worms that feed on khoon, they never felt so
unguardedly cavernous.


Published in Heavy Feather Review.

The Golden Door