“As I Stand Here, Reflecting”

If you think you know me

Let me assure you—

You do not

You only know the projection

Of a role I like to play—

Someone I created to be some version,

Of a girl who might have been me

You think you know me

But have you had intimate conversation

With my soul?

Have you peeked inside my mind,

And unfurled the tapestry

Of my secrets?

You claim to know me

But I don’t even know me

Every now and then I get to see her

In my dreams—the girl I might actually be

And she is beautiful

She doesn’t know my world,

And so she is free of its restraints

Her home is between one dream and the next

And she speaks to me only when I’m ready to listen

Unlike me, she is not an illusion

She is the manifestation of who I hope to become

While I am shards of glass,

Still learning to piece myself together

She is the mirror: whole and far from broken

I look at her and I see my potential

Innocent

Do you remember her?

She used to dream so freely

Grasping for joy and comfort

In the spaces where there was no room

For hate

Remember?

She colored outside of the lines so well

And her ears heard nothing but melodies

Her eyes saw nothing but beautiful things

She used to believe that everyone was pure-hearted

And she could laugh and smile in her own way

Without second-guessing her appearance

Remember?

Remember when she sat on her mother’s lap

And thought the world was perfect,

Just the way it was?

She used to lie at night, unburdened

Her thoughts light, her mind at ease

Do you remember her, the little girl you used to be?

The world from my grandmother’s lap seemed brighter

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In the ebony of my eyes and the caramel of my skin,

My grandmother’s smile is pressed firm—

Her brown locks brush across my cheeks and she holds me tight,

Whispering untold secrets into my ears.

We share smiles that bridge time and make history—

I find myself folded into the depths and crevices of these smiles,

Wrapped up safe in 7aboba’s toob and her secrets.

She smells like fresh lemonade and white lilies and sandaliya, all at once.

She feels like home and sounds like comfort,

And looks so much like me.

Our eyes are shaped like almonds, but carry different stories:

Hers carry depth, having seen so much—

While mine have barely learned to recognize life.

But in our eyes there is a shared legacy,

And one day I will carry my son’s daughter,

Having seen as much as 7aboba did.

For now I am content to find comfort in her embrace,

In the familiar hands that hold me close,

Fingers stained with henna and just as strong as they are beautiful.

 

 

 

This is not a love story 

She tried to tell him 

Her heart was not made for loving 

But he laughed and loved her anyway

He reached deep into the spaces

Where her mind played tricks on her

And told her she deserved only her thoughts 

As company 

He came and pushed these thoughts aside 

And took residence in the crevices 

Between her fears and her selfish needs

She tried to tell him 

Her heart was not made for loving 

She tried to show him that inside she was

Empty.

With nothing to offer but the sad remains of something resembling affection 

She tried to tell him 

He didn’t listen, and loved her still 

Even when at times she seemed only a shell of herself,

Retreating into corners and hiding in the silence 

Even when she wished only to drive him away

So that he might find some other heart who knew to love, and love entirely 

Even then he waited patiently, indulging her silences 

And held her until she came to learn what holding meant 

She didn’t know how to explain it— that there was no room in her for love

Not since she’d forgotten how to love herself 

But he knew, and told her without saying much, what loving really was

It was caring for a wreck like her, who could never love as much 

She tried to tell him 

On Guns and Violence

I am in the hands of he who does not comprehend

Anything

His mind is not his own

The blame not his to carry

But the victims are still gone, and their grieving mothers

Need someone to blame

Who do they blame?

The fault is mine, of course

I am here, forgotten, discarded

Evidence

But I am so much more than proof

In my chamber I held one too many bullets

Branded with their names

Now they lie, motionless,

Bodies without souls—

One too many of them

How much longer before the next one?

Who will choose to stand behind me

Wielding power he does not possess,

Taking lives he has no right to take

I am not a shield for you

Do you not understand

With your history and your wars and your massacres

Do you still not understand?

With men among you who feed off my abilities,

Why do you allow your laws to be on the side of killers

I am not your friend

I will never be your friend

Arm yourselves with shame

Or have there not been enough deaths for you yet?

 

 

 

“Self”

Beneath the layers

You construct

Deep down where no one

Knows you, as you pretend

To know yourself,

In the fabric of

Your fabricated lies and

Your woven untruths—

There is a part of you

That you have long since

Buried, the forgotten remains

Of happier beginnings.

She crouches in a corner of

A fragmented mind, rocking

Back and forth, teetering

On the edge of something new.

She reaches for the outside world,

Where you have learned to hide

In plain sight. But you push

Her down, into the depths of a

Miserable non-existence.

She is the only one who will fight

You, but you have long since

Given up the fight

“Remembering”

Like the drops of dew that

Have come to take residence

On her hollowed cheeks

The raindrops splattering

Over the umbrella of her

Broken thoughts

Sting.

They sting, and she does nothing

To wipe them away. Instead she

Clutches onto a hope

That the past will be wiped

From her mind,

With the salt of her memories

And the novelty of new pain

That comes in the deluge

From an equally unhappy sky