The White Poet Wants to Know Why I Don’t Write More Arab Poems
Because, while a war blooms at the margins
of the other country that claims me, still
I am here with my ordinary grief and its language.
Because every time I open my mouth
I am an Arab opening my mouth
and the poem is, and isn’t, responsible.
Sometimes I have to shake
the sand from my story
like a shoe by the side of the road.
I have lost nearly everyone I love, and all
to mundane tragedies.
I have never felt in my bones a bomb’s
radius of light.
The truth is I can only write about God
so many times
before he starts listening.
The truth is, like you
some days I am struck
by pleasure so simple and insistent
I can’t resist—the sun offering indiscriminate
brightness against my window, on the table
an empty glass glittering
—or sometimes, too, I am unwilling
to mention the wild
flowers staked in the field like flags.
Previous published in the Summer 2017 issue of The Georgia Review
Please join us Wednesday, April 18 as we welcome Leila for a reading at 7 p.m. and as she announces the winner of the Annie Balocating Prize. Details at Poetry.RCAH.msu.edu