Identity

353 readings

6

Noun. Consistency in one’s personhood regardless of externalities.

I
I cannot escape the
veil on my head
fabric I draped at the age of nine when I was taught to
wrap myself in expectation
the coffee of my skin
bitterness of flesh when I
try to scratch the pain away
or the almond of my eye
pointed ovals floating between stars
encrusted in a ring of a lighter brown
but still
I do not know who I am
the
longer I allow the sadness to sink in
the more I lose myself
the more I become
the problem
is staying in this body for a wasteful lifetime

II
My mother:
my mother grew up overseas
she taught me how to crack Persian anar at the age of three
to bite pomegranate between teeth
sucking the blood of one thousand Syrian refugees clean
to hold them
and tell them
all of the memories they dropped into the sea
on their way to Austria and Germany
will be fished out by us
we will hang their memories to dry with our laundry
until they can swim home again
my mother
taught me to recite Qur’an
Divine Revelation on tongue
when we buried.
my brother
inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajiun
she said
we belong to God and to God we shall return
she said

III
However there is something she did not teach me
my mama:
my mama didn’t teach me how to scrub the pain from my throat
she said recite dhikr
which just made my silent screams drier
she said
pray about it.
but my mama didn’t teach me what to do when God just does not
hear you
what to do when you have been screaming to God for five years
my mama didn’t teach me how to swallow a salvation
that was pushed down my throat
how to honor my Black Panther of a grandmother
the fight for justice innately in limb
I just do not know how to fight for justice,
for my body,
for my limbs
I’m stuck between an Irshad Manji and an Ammar Nakshawani
and I’m just kind of a really progressive Rumi

IV
They say:
they say that our cells duplicate and duplicate
and that every seven years
our bodies are completely new again
I am waiting
however my cells are too slow to change
my cells are acting weak
so
I just want to tell her that
I am sorry
my identity is still becoming
a cement heavy thing.
only to get lost in this world again
my bricks have not set yet
but Mama,
when they become walls I will paint them
after you
the golden back of Queen Nzinga’s throne after you
and I will invite you
in
-----
"Identity" was first published in Husnaa Hashim’s debut chapbook collection, Honey Sequence, published by The Head & The Hand Press in collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia.
6

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Image of Prithvijeet Sinha
Prithvijeet Sinha · ago
You told your story with grit, grace and power. It sublimated me as a reader.
·
Image of Irene Yawazee
Irene Yawazee · ago
Beautiful haunting writing!
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Image of Danie Botha
Danie Botha · ago
Husnaa,
A remarkable achievement.
The soulful cries and laments of an adult child, a woman no less, at peace and at war with her upbringing and the brokenness around her
It is impossible not to feel the agony of the writer ...

·

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