MY MOTHER SAYS THIS WOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED IF WE STAYED IN PALESTINE

MEJDULENE B. SHOMALI

i.
imagine i am 24 married to rami or fadi or even moussa
imagine i wear the big white dress
imagine i am 28 with two children
imagine i am searching but not finding

maybe i am 18 in college in ramallah
i meet rima & rauda & huda
we drink taybeh beer in the gardens
we smoke apple argilas & dance into the morning

or i am 32 married & infertile
i translate arabic to english for american tourists
i name things unspeakable
i draw down the blinds of myself

ii.
“i guess we’ll never know” i say & the scene freezes
laurence fishburne as edward said emerges from the pantry
“the Orient becomes a living tableau of queerness” he says

“take the red pill & i’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”
i take the red pill on the plane with leila khaled
we have facial reconstructions once a week

today i am um kulthum & she is abdel nasser
we land the plane in the lap of the sphinx
darwish & kanafani are still alive & fairuz sings “al bosta”

iii.
luti…….ma’bun…….mukkhannath
suhaqqiya…….mutathakera…….hasan subi
naqis…….shaatha…….mutahowileen

iv.
love lace your thighs in mine
together we are weaving a time warp
another dimension
where i always find you

MEJDULENE B. SHOMALI is a queer Palestinian poet and assistant professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her work can be read in Copper Nickel, The Shade Journal, Tinderbox, Diode Press, The Pinch Journal, Mizna, and elsewhere. You can visit with Mejdulene at her website and on Instagram.