The Colorado School of Medicine has published this piece in Volume 13 of the Human Touch Journal. If you are interested in this poem and others like it, you may read more in my new chapbook “Socdaal”. The link for purchase is under the poem. I hope you enjoy it.
You may ask me to repeat myself,
but must you furrow your brow?
I split my tongue to speak to you.
If you care to know, I’ll show you how.
Down the middle of this pink sponge, there are peacemakers.
They don’t have to work hard when the listener knows of laxoox and ghee,
but when it’s you,
this pink sponge expands and shoves against my teeth.
The sponge splits you see?
The left is sharp with its grammarian formalities,
and as for the right, well it retreats to familiarity,
to laxoox and ghee.
The two are not yet used to each other,
so they tangle and delay delivery.
The peacemakers will declare unity.
They will march down the middle
and pull from both the left and right forcefully
They will then sew the two so tight, you will not see the red that trickles,
but I will taste it, the iron, the trial, I will taste it.
When speaking to people like you I always do.
So, spare the furrowed brow just because you’re confused
I’ll repeat myself,
but don’t you forget,
I must split my tongue just to speak to you.
There are different languages in love and the ways in which we give and like to receive such a thing depends on if we like to listen or sing
Stories are songs, and every day my Aabo came home from work I would run to his feet to be seated front row at his memory lane symphony
I was nine
He told me if ever saw a lion, he’d wish for a gun to shoot it because he remembers the nights he slept in fear, makeshift tents in the countryside, he remembers when the lion took her life, screams of his habaryaro’s death cry.
He speaks with his hands and I fear for the lion that doesn’t know my Aabo
He’s a man that can make water from sand, allowing a desert to flow from nothing by command, not in the way God Almighty does, but with his God-given gift for entertaining, orchestrating language into a choir or choreographing his stories to dance into paintings of my motherland
For a man to have five daughters and no sons is no accident, he is the chosen one
He once told me he used to smoke as a child, he was seven when his father who served for the British in WWII died, so selling them was his way to get by, he had to provide.
He would tell me time and time again of his coming to America story, and if you asked me to tell it, I’d tell you I rather not because each time my Aabo tells it, I’m reminded of a detail I almost forgot
He says, I was 15 and trapped in the boarding school my mother had sent me too. Education is freedom, but with the lack of resources, those teachers didn’t know more than whom they were teaching. So I bought seeds with the few shillings I had and planted them on the outskirts of the building & if the vines grew I would pack my bags and go, but if they didn’t In this destitute place I would stay, and the conditions were against my odds because in Somaliland it hardly rained
But if the beloved prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did not study language and yet could suddenly read, teach and recite the holy words that even the scholars and masters of poetry could not recreate, then I needed to have faith. And by the will of God, my plants grew and covered the walls of the school
Oh my daughter, In my journey, I was alone through the nights, alone in the desert but not alone in life
It was as though death became my neighbor several times, but not fulfilling the unlived dreams of my father would be a war crime, and the laugh of my mother needed a home. She once told me that as a baby she put me on the camel and walked alongside, but the camel started running, yet miraculously, while I was still sleeping, I slid down the shawl my mother had tied to the camel as though it was a rope, I was unharmed, death was friendly, and I became my mother’s miracle child.
Stories like this would leave me with so many questions. How could you have been asleep, you really slid down that easy, you didn’t even cry, well Subhanallah by Allah’s mercy Abbo you really are a miracle child
Home is in the discoloration of my father’s teeth, in the mole on his left cheek, and I like to say that to say that mine, although much smaller, is part of is, I took his nose too and his principle for how you must always pour in a cup too full of love when you cook food. Home is in the way he smiles and how he has the name of every enemy or friend I’ve had since pre-school memorized. Home is in the warmth of his voice and only through him can my multi-hyphenated identity rejoice
It is him that makes me look to the opportunity and not inequality
I ask Allah for sons because I want them to be like my Aabo, the chosen one