Far from Her in Egypt under Curfew

by Andy Young

for Iman

We got babysitters
so we could go the Square,
cut lemons for our scarves—
the small, thin triangular ones
she said were for people
of the Book. Wearing one,
you could be any one of the three
religions, she said, though
her Egyptian self is seen
as foreign: her clothes,
her ways, her spot-on
English, and I am always
stared at, an agnabi, though
I’m told I have an Egyptian face.

Those magnetic paper dolls
on my fridge reminded her
of that video, the headless kid
in Syria, the father holding her
up, looking into where her face
would have been—
can we still speak
of the ishta, its perfumed cream,
its seeds something we could spoon?
Speak of the afternoon light flat
and bright as a copper plate, clatter
of men hawking tomatoes, water,
a stone wheel to sharpen knives,
the voice of that man who could
barely shuffle, his hands out,
his cry catching in his throat
Ya Raab Ya Raab Ya Raab

ANDY YOUNG is a poet and essayist and is the co-founder of Meena, a bilingual Arabic-English literary journal. Her poetry collection All Night It Is Morning was published in 2014 by Di´logos Press. She teaches at Tulane University, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and is a free-lance writer for Heinemann’s Guided Reading program. Her work has appeared in places such as Los Angeles Review of BooksGuernicaNew World Writing, and One, as well as in electronic and flamenco music and as elements in visual art. You can find her book here. “Far from Her in Egypt under Curfew” was selected as a Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition Winner in 2015.