Monday, June 21, 2004

oh, the scrolling, so much scrolling

[Background: A friend asked me a while back to write up a few sentences summarizing why I choose to be Muslim, so she could then publish it in the Muslim campus paper, along with several other students' responses. I kept assuring her that I would submit something, but was frustrated at my inability to articulate exactly what she needed and what I wanted to say. The poem I ended up writing while I was supposed to be studying for a psychology final submitting instead illustrates some of that dilemma, I hope. This one is called Elusion. If it sounds choppy, it's because I'm not used to writing poetry, so it's more like a prose piece chopped up into short lines. Besides, this is only the second real poem I've ever written. The other one involves even more scrolling, so you'll have to let me know if you can handle it. Real post coming tomorrow, peoples.]

She holds out a hand to stop me
As I exit the building.
“Tell me,” she says.
“A few words, nothing more, just
The gist of an explanation.
It won’t take too much of
Your time.”

But I slant my gaze
And turn my head and
Answer in a voice muffled
By years of confusion and regrets:
“I have no words.”

“How can you not?” she queries,
Or perhaps what I hear is just
The reproachful voice
Of my own heart.
“No words for that which
Is so defining, so innate,
So all-encompassing and guiding
For you?”

But I turn away
And close my eyes
As images of the past
And present and what could be
Float through my conscience.
And I, too, wonder at
My lack of words,
Usually so steadfast,
Sentinel guards standing at attention,
Eyes sharp, literary weapons waiting
For my command.

I see her the next day.
I will see her tomorrow
And the day after, and more.
Each day she will approach
Me to ask
For my thoughts and justifications.
And each time,
Despite her entreaties,
Comes my level, distant reply:
“I have no words.”

The truth lies not in words
But in actions and endeavors.
I bathe, hoping someday
The water substitutes for light.
I will pray on carpets that scrape
My sunburnt skin
And on rugs that cushion
My blistered feet
And on marble floors and green lawns
That cool my face in prostration,
Hoping for levels higher
Than that which I know.

I will prove my worth
And challenge definitions,
Even if I must
Redefine challenges.
I will continue to smile at strangers
And I will change the world
Or the day after,
And more.

Because I,
One woman walking,
Represent so much

And when I see her again,
It will be a new season
And perhaps a new
I will be able to speak
That day,
To give voice to the muffled words
Of my soul,
To speak of sparks of light
In twisted hearts,
Prayers that illuminate darkened corners,
Joyous laughter that stems
From gratitude for relief
And salvation.

But today
There are still words left unsaid,
Thoughts unknown,
Actions unconceived.
And I stumble on the path,
Fumble for words,
Laugh at my own confusion,
Throw up my hands
To relieve myself of
The burden of justifications.

This season is cold.
My conscience feeds off
My soul.
And there are
Days of darkness,
Nights of rain.

But tomorrow will bring
The light.

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