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


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.

This is a small representation of the high-quality writings you’ll find in every issue of TIFERET.

We receive no outside funding and rely on digital issues, workshop fees, and donations to publish. If you enjoy our journal’s verbal and visual offerings, we hope you’ll consider supporting us in one of these ways.

Click Here to Purchase Digital Issues