poetry// daybreak

what is fajr to the modern Muslim?

The crack of dawn and the breath of a cold and weary room
exchange a tender kiss and I am a witness.
This bed is warm and sleep is too and it is so nice
to be numb in this world of pain.

What does it mean to be awake
When the night is still stumbling around the sky and most
Of the people I know and have loved are fast asleep?

The pulsing cry of the alarm goes off
and my cell phone on my bedside sounds off
Harsh and jarring electronic noise slices through
the sacredness of this early morning silence
Reminding me that I am of a different time
Than the first people to pray this prayer
Of a different time than even my own father
Who grew up with the athan harmonizing in his ear

And I just have a cell phone
And a tile-floored dorm room towering above a city that doesn’t know I am awake
And so, as I sit in my bed, gathering up the courage to embrace the day,
one leg
Over the looming edge of the bed
Then two,
My feet hit the ground / & I find my shoes / & I find the sink / & I wait for the water to warm.

I glisten at the crack of dawn.
My arms/ hair/ eyes/ face/ all shimmering, glittering, and sparkling with
this water
Holy, and mystical.
I tip-toe
careful not to wake my roommate
And not to wake the neighbors
Lest they open their eyes and become blinded by the light I am dripping in

I quietly pull my prayer mat from on top of the plastic bin tucked beneath my bed
the world is a Musallah to the Muslim
Every inch of ground waits to be baptized and known by its God-ly name
The floorboards call out to my forehead and something hums in the dark
when my toes sink into the warmth of the rug
To the modern Muslim the artificial
become the closest thing to reality
Plastic and polyester become a gateway to another realm

I pray just before sunrise takes center stage

It is simple and sweet
Two short Raka’at
One then
And it is over

My body exhales and the room lets out a shiver and
The sun pokes through the sky and
Night dances away laughing and glistening,
blowing me a final farewell kiss as she bows out
The day has begun and I am already victorious
I have risen before the world has
And I have prayed before I have done anything else

Sleep pulls at my bod like a magnet
I zip up my tracksuit
grab the cell phone on my bedside
Snatch a pair of headphones
a water bottle
Tugging on my socks and sneakers
I head to the gym.
With the last of the Fajr Glow trailing behind me.

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