13 Jun 2014

Hijab Scene #7 -- Mohja Kahf

[1969-present, born Syria, migrated to USA as a child]

No, I’m not bald under the scarf
No, I’m not from that country
where women can’t drive cars
No, I would not like to defect
I’m already American
But thank you for offering
What else do you need to know
relevant to my buying insurance,
opening a bank account,
reserving a seat on a flight?
Yes, I speak English
Yes, I carry explosives
They’re called words
And if you don’t get up
Off your assumptions
They’re going to blow you away

 Source: Kahf, M 2003, E-mails from Scheherazad, University of Florida Press.

Love -- Kate Clanchy

[b. 1965, Scotland]

I hadn’t met his kind before.
His misericord face – really,
like a joke on his father – blurred
as if from years of polish;
his hands like curled dry leaves;

the profligate heat he gave
out, gave out, his shallow,
careful breaths: I thought
his filaments would blow,
I thought he was an emperor,

dying on silk cushions.
I didn’t know how to keep
him wrapped, I didn’t know
how to give him suck, I had
no idea about him. At night

I tried to remember the feel
of his head on my neck, the skull
small as a cat’s, the soft spot
hot as a smelted coin,
and the hair, the down, fine

as the innermost, vellum layer
of some rare snowcreature’s
aureole of fur, if you could meet
such a beast, if you could
get so near. I started there.

Source: Clanchy, K 2003 (autumn), Poetry Review, 93, 3, from Newborn (London: Picador, 2004) 

Atlas -- UA Fanthorpe

[1929-2009, English]

There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

 Source: Fanthorpe, UA, 1995, Safe as Houses, Peterloo Poets.