I am Arab with no Arabic in my body

besides the name sewn into my clothes

right beside




I try to speak the sounds unfamiliar

and instead vomit a millennium of shame

I feel the distance between me and my homeland

further than my feet will ever carry me

an expanse the oceans couldn’t fill,

yet somehow roughly the length of my tongue

How close could I come 

to a home never mine

if the word for whitewash

for long-lost

for hubris

are terms without translation?

Will my Sitti still answer the door

if my mouth never learns to knock?

I have become 

a pair of clogged ear drums,

hearing only the rhythms my tongue will never dance to

My teeth, piano ivories forever out of tune

It’s a unique type of pain

knowing I will never speak

the language that lines my father’s dreams,

a crime for which penance can never be paid

Can a culture die on my tongue?

Dare I utter its name

while it rots, here, buried in my throat?


by Samya Abu-Orf; contributor

poetryZoe Rayn Evans