jiddu HagMusa, preparing his wudu pictured here, is my father's paternal grandfather, Hag Musa, may Allah have mercy on his soul. this is the first image i have seen of him, as he passed away the year that my parents were married, the same year my mother's paternal grandmother passed away, (a year of sorrow/ … Continue reading prose// a portrait of wudu (the story of my great grandfather)
the people i love are dying. my great-grandmother, a great-aunt, my father's eldest sister has too been tucked underneath the earth. i clench my jaw laying in my bed. it is all i can do to save myself from jumping out of my blankets and running to the airport to leap on the first flight to Khartoum that i can book. i wouldn't even know where to go looking for the right graveyards, for where to lay down on the earth and press my heart as close as I can to where theirs used to pulse. i want to be loved by the people in my family who knew Allah.
Last year was the best Ramadan of my life. I am afraid of what is supposed to take place on Thursday, the birth of a month as old and as familiar to me as my own family. I keep thinking, was that the peak? Will I never experience a Ramadan like that again? When I … Continue reading prose// ramadan, ya ramadan (please, be gentle, I am fragile)
I have felt it today, maybe for the first time in four years, maybe not, it is hard to recall. The texture of knowing, the feeling, “oh wow, this is what I have been doing for four years”. You know, the part of the Toni-Morrison-novel-reading-journey when you finally catch a glimpse of “it”: the arch, … Continue reading prose// birth anniversaries and the witnessing of classrooms hallowing
These days, winter comes angrily. Or maybe not. I project onto the weather sometimes, you know. Am I an onion? Strange question, I know. Obvious answers are evident, but who could possibly be that interested in the obvious?! I've thought about onions a lot. Vegetables that peel away, layer after layer, until there is nothing … Continue reading prose// seasonal produce
I want things I do not deserve. how awful to be choked by your own idle and uncertain hands? Maybe that is the punishment: longing with no reciprocity. it is impossible to know the dead the way I need to-- so take me to Medina! I just want to taste it for a moment, (what … Continue reading poetry// distance(d)
There are many things in life you cannot rehearse for. I know this, of course, at an intellectual level. But still yet, well, I rehearse nearly everything. The conversation before a meeting, the smile I will grace at the event that evening, the conversation I want to have with my father the next day. I … Continue reading prose// volume
I am in this funny phase of life where time moves quickly and so do I with it. The amount of growth that takes place in even a week astounds me sometimes. I don't know if I were to meet the woman I was even six months ago if she would be able to recognize … Continue reading prose// on swelling and other things
I think about the ways I want to gather up the sounds of my family, pile on as much as my hands and hard drives can carry when we expend ourselves to the very maximum. What lengths for lineage I would leap in a heartbeat! Memorize the laughter, the inflections, the accents, the words they speak in a dialect that is crisp and yet silky in my ear. There are few things as beautiful to my ears as Sudanese Arabic, shuffling its way across the tongues of women who smell like heaven. Everything flows effortlessly from my father's people and the place they proudly represent: the drape of the toub, the bright and blooming karkade that tinkers in glasses, the cold water of the Nile, the long tresses of a laughing girl who flounce her way past me in the masjid foyer.
Water is my healing It calls my name in all of its pronunciations My toes crawl back to the rivers & the lakes & the places I know where the earth’s veins tumble open And oxidize at human touch. Water is my song The waves / the sounds of river slapping up against concrete harbor … Continue reading poetry// holy water