نور/noo͝ r/noun/arabic word for/light/linguistic root of/noura
i was born heiress to moonlight
over mountains. in arab writing
the night is a blessing/an almost-holy
relief from the heat of summer
burning lighter complexions
in its bright/i used to dream the night sky
drenched me indigo.
in those dreams, my dark graced
the sweltering forehead
of my father’s homeland. to be half-black in lebanon
is to have both inheritances ripped from my skin
in arab writing, my name
is asmareh. eyes like almonds/squint. blur
dark girl, and fear of the dark. blur
black. i was born able to let sunlight fill me.
i catch it
without being burned. its warmth stroking
my shoulders, like a mother dancing
at the reunion. my brown
-kissed face, the thank you note.
and isn’t that something to celebrate?
that i can bathe in my inheritance
of light because of my dark skin? is there no magic in that?
is it not bitter-
sweet that my arab name could only be realized
نور/noo͝ r/noun/arabic word for/light/linguistic root of/my name
poems have waged war
in the crevices
of my mouth and emerged
and tongue as spoils of battle.
I have written the poems
in which my blood waters too many
roots at once in which my blood
spreads too thin in which mixed race
is a two-way colonizer
still trying to conquest
this body. Today the blood
-stains on my hands are too jumbled
Today, I write the poem of collard greens and hummus
and the way all my people fry fish.
Today I write of العربغليزية
a word invented
to mash english
into a cacophony
of joyous, ridiculous
syllables – I’m ridiculous,
really. I’m the remix left
that there is no overlap here,
that I am an entity emanating
a new kind of light.
i mean, you could say i’m resentful
but why didn’t i get
the eyebrows? someone told me once
you can spot a Lebanese woman
from the way her eyebrows fan
into a subtle peacock’s tail.
right at the spot
where they reach for each other across the bridge of her nose.
have i not earned those feathers?
Fairouz is the most famous Lebanese singer
i can think of right now. her voice cascaded
from the speakers at every wedding
i’ve been to. i couldn’t dance dabke very well
like the other flower girls
in 11th grade the SAT asked what race am i?
which is to say it asked which weathered branch
of family tree i’d like to rip off today: do you listen
to Biggie on your ipod or Fairouz?
i answered Black first because
i never finished learning Arabic.
when i speak the accent is sticky
too much رمانرب
i guess it’s a little like table syrup.
not as sweet though.
i heard a mashup of Fairouz and Biggie
the other day. i couldn’t find it again
no matter how hard i looked.