By Sophia Al-Banaa

I am from a place where the sea is the color of sand. 

a place where pickup trucks hold watermelons, fuzzy peaches and ears of corn, 

an old man splitting the fruits with his bare hands, juices running to his elbows

for customers who never pay

quite enough for his laborious fruits.

I am from a great grandfather traveling deserts, 

gifting his poetry, 

growing flowers with no water.

I am from a family crest emblazoned with

a big-nosed Arab: 

a caricature, a being

whiteness was greater than.

I am from invaders with blue eyes, 

offspring now tainted 

by impure blood they were sure

would shed. 

I am from a grandmother who kept needles 

in her nose piercing, 

so she would never lose her place. 

blossoms of henna blooming up her arms, 

whispering alhamdullilah to gold tea kettles. 

I am from family quilts stitched by frail hands, 

patterns stolen from people whose tears 

lined the rims of pots and pans.

I am from fingers that laid bricks atop broken glass, 

thumbing through plum-red musabahat,

assembling mosques and buildings to hold dreams.

I am from dreams,

shriveled up under the burning sun,

the color of dates 

fallen in the soil.

fibers separating from the pit, 

telling a story:

you can never get away from what is at your center.  

Sophia is a Kuwaiti-American Muslim woman, and her dual identity is intimately centered in what she writes, as well as the human condition as a whole. Sophia graduated with her MSW from University of Pennsylvania & has a degree in English Lit from Rutgers University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Bad Form Review, Versification, aaduna, Rutgers University Writer’s House & Rookie Magazine. She currently lives in Philadelphia.

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