ghaflah – the sin of forgetfulness


born by the mediterranean

our mothers bathe us in orange-blossom water

olive trees and cedars

strain to give us shade

we come to america where they call our land

the East        meaning different/dark/dirty

we soon forget

our grandmothers combed hair like ours

we wish our hair blonde      our eyes and skin light

we know barbie

looks better than scheherezade

we think french makes us sophisticated so

we greet each other bonjour instead of salaam

proud of our colonizer’s tongue

we forget the Qur’an sings in arabic


when we arrived

our fingernails pierced the palms of our hands

we stared at pictures of our children

eye sockets carved out by rubber bullets

on the 10 o’clock news

our brothers and sisters spit up blood and teeth

and CBS declared them “terrorists”


now we turn away from bruises and broken bones

body counts and funerals

we know we cannot help   anyway

we forget we once stood on the same ground

they die on

we look for the arabia packaged by the west

we escape into clubs to watch

blonde belly dancers named jasmine

sashay almost naked

we eat pasty hummous at eight dollars a plate

and tell each other

how much we miss our home