Being a Muslim woman
there is no room for error;

there is only urgency

as the blaring of red and blue sirens
seems to replace

the Trumpet of Gabriel.

The world is on fire

so I stand on the brink
of today and tomorrow

to scatter yesterday’s ashes,
and give birth to hope.

The world spins,

so I make a life for myself
in the margin
in-between the spaces that overlap.

I balance myself
on this tight-rope

hanging in mid-air,
anchored by nothing.

The world watches,
holding its breath

as I walk the line.

The air that I breathe

is full of history
and the sooty residue

of bloated,
well-dressed men

giving birth to war.

So I set foot,
to find a new home

on the outskirts
just along a bridge

that borders where our worlds meet.

Until we face each other
and collide;

and inside of this

is the energy;
the untapped reserve.

After our countless battles,
The dust settles
and we try to recover

to pick up the pieces,
to build anew.

I know all too well
that when I close my eyes
the world will not disappear.

Are you aware
that when you close your eyes
I will not fade away?

Or cease to exist

like a disembodied ghost,
a soul without a home

a trace of me
will always linger,

just as the eternal smoke
of a world on fire

hesitates in the air

until the spinning of time
is stopped.

It may be my fate
to keep the world awake

so no longer will I rest
as a sleeping landscape.

Because the skin I live in
itches with urgency

as my voice reaches out,
and refuses to stay silent.

A Poem by:
Saima Shamsi

Email: [email protected]


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  • Saima Shamsi

    Saima Shamsi is a first generation South Asian-American woman, writer, poet and visual artist.