application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl

every language is a borrowed joke

Filmmaker Donna Lamar
Partner Cave Canem

application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl

i go quiet for days      i turn the color of mirrors
i turn the color of smoke      men tell me sometimes
that blue becomes me      when i answer my voice
is hoarse from disuse      i am afraid of my body & the ways
that it fails me      i faint      a woman on the subway platform
catches me      floating into the tracks      i become the color
blue      i don’t like to be touched      i wonder why
more people      have not been kidnapped by taxi drivers
white men ask me      to say their names in arabic
ask where i’m      [really from]      i am six months
returned from sudan      henna fading to look like burns
dusted up my arms      i bleed & can't stop bleeding
i speak & my mouth      is my biggest wound
every language      is a borrowed joke      i catch myself
complimenting strangers      on their english      i am six months
returned from incense smoke      to soften the taste of river water
incense burned       to avert the evil eye      i see a possessed
woman scream      when a prayer is read      her eyes the color
of smoke      & mine is a story older than water
 
 
 
 

 

 

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“application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl,” a poem by Safia Elhillo. ©2015 Safia Elhillo. Used by permission. This poem originally appeared in Pleiades.

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