Excerpt from The Last Day Before Asiya’s Nervous Breakdown by Mohja Kahf

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The following poem appears in Tiferet’s February 2016 issue. The entire issue is available for immediate digital download.

The branch silhouetted against the sky frightens me
The books I used to read lie about me
The skeleton of a wet leaf
pressed against the pavement
makes me shudder. The lying books
are believed, and I am not believed

My self stumbles against sharp protrusions and curses me
This happens, then I make breakfast for the children
Then I drive to work in Pharoah’s order
Then I come home frightened
I am tired of being who I am in Pharoah’s order
May I stop now? May I be something else?
Would that offend my father the Pharoah, or the ladies of the city?

MOHJA KAHF, born in Damascus, Syria, is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Arkansas, where she has taught for twenty years. Kahf’s novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, was a Booksense reading group favorite in 2007. Her essays appear in Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism, and Awakening, Arab and Arab American Feminisms, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology (2011). Kahf is a member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement.