In My Solitude: Sharia Kharif, Nothin’ Sweet In These Streets

Ankara Hijab
by Sharia Kharif “suga”

I’m squeezed between traditions
weary back pressed against a wall of hate
venom spewed with the force of my name on local tongues
mangled and misused, uninformed and unwilling
they shroud their fear in bitterness
roll my likeness around fetid mouths
lingering taste of the Arabic crushed between their teeth
at odds with skin too dark to hide my roots
good hair teased into puffs that stretched when pulled against my will
leche skin boiled caramel by Florida sun, downcast eyes and bloodied knuckles
soil caked beneath bitten nails
tried to climb free of contradictions
“submit” they said “without backing down”
MsKharif2What was our name? Our tongue?
forced labor beside those who’d soon share our flesh, our hue
transformed, we favor silver over feathers
water over plains, Creek
moon calls yet we hide in mosques and Baptist revivals
heads covered, hair straightened, white socks and patent shoes
dredlocs and cowries, incense and Ankara
sage and indigo, peppers for Legba?
back straight on wooden pews, now bend at the waist
Masha’Allah
expectations slice deep…unrelenting
foreign eyes in familial flesh glance away
whispered prayers that need translation
better me than them…nowhere to go. I was born here
local hands mop festering wounds with striped flag
red lines bleeding onto scars darker than blue

 

 

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Sharia Kharif is a Teacher and Artist in Nashville, Tennessee

 

 

 


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