Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by Noor Hindi

By

 

 

 

Thirst

That summer, Amman was a broken
            railing I tried to lean on
                        & the Athan was like a song

I tried & tried to love. I was
            little & terrified
                        of God, my lust hanging

from the roots of my hair —
            what did I know of hunger
                        which moved at the speed

of fingers exploring a body
            I wanted to be mine. I remember
                        my grandmother

tapping her feet during iftar,
            say al-Hamdillah, say I am thankful
                        for this sunlight, this sorrow,

this summer which is endless
            & tastes like a heat. After iftar,
                        I would hold her hand, let her guide

me to the women’s mosque
            where dirt lined
                        the soles of their feet,

their hands clutching prayer beads,
            eyes with us & not. I longed
                        for that softness & surrender

which I mistook for faith.
            Oh Allah, I never found you
                        in those spaces. Oh Allah,

it’s true: I became selfish, years later.
            It’s true I wanted to fuck
                        her — drank to drink

& get drunk until I was brave
            & no longer a girl
                        wiping my teeth

with pages of the Quran.
            When morning came, one of us
                        spent hours washing

her hands in an ocean of bleach,
            the other stumbled into a mosque
                        for the first time in years

& howled at Allah for creating
            appetites & tongues, for lungs
                        that inhale so much of this world.

 

I ONCE LOOKED IN A MIRROR BUT COULDN’T SEE MY BODY
            (Ekphrastic poem, after ‘The Persistence of Memory’ by Salvador Dali)
            after Mahmoud Darwish

It didn’t feel much different
than walking
through this country, citizen
less & carrying
a history. Somewhere
is my body
alone & watching
my father
in the middle of the night
drawing & redrawing
a map of Palestine, green
ink —

& it hurts
& it hurts
& it hurts
& it hurts

What is Palestine if not the olive tree growing on my father’s tongue
What is Palestine if not the olive tree growing
What is Palestine if not the olive
What is Palestine
What —

Somewhere is a clock.
Melting.

 

Dear Santa,

I’m not sorry for telling everyone you weren’t real
in kindergarten after you didn’t choose me
for a gift. Yes, the class cried. Yes, I am often spiteful,
but my parents taught me not to believe
your lies. Dear Santa, I was six years old and confused.
Why couldn’t we celebrate Eid al-Fitr in public
school? I wanted to believe you, but I never saw you
crawl down our chimney, and I was skeptical
of your love for Muslims — of this country’s love
for Muslims. And what about the sound
of my grandmother’s voice chanting Allahu Akbar
seconds before kneeling into a prayer rug,
or the sounds of those men shouting Allahu Akbar
minutes before those planes
hit the twin towers with such rage? Remember the gun
my uncle placed in my father’s hand months later
for protection, his index finger cradling
a trigger because they don’t want us here.
Dear Santa, who are they?
Years later, during Ramadan, my parents would send me
to school without breakfast, hunger a home
in my stomach — except, I never fasted, the only Muslim
in school, how could I explain to my teachers
and classmates when shame followed me to lunchtime
like a hungry puppy wanting to be fed?
Dear Santa, I was exceptionally good at lying
so I ate their square pizza and wiped chocolate milk
off my lips before coming home. Dear Santa,
why doesn’t this country love the way my mother wraps
her favorite scarf around her head before parent-teacher
conferences, or the way my father mispronounces the letters
p and b? My siblings learning English
by watching Full House, my brothers saying
don’t be so Americanized, my grandmother memorizing
all 100 questions of her civic test, becoming American.
Santa, what does it mean to be American? To like
eggnog, to put up a Christmas tree, string lights
around my body and dance to a national anthem
that’s never seen me.

 

All My Plants Are Dead

 

I stopped trying

to feed anything but myself.

I woke up yesterday and couldn’t see

a road, then I woke up the next day

and someone gave me a book

about male entitlement

that I drowned in orange juice

before setting fire to my desk.

I am trying to be more even tempered.

I am trying to eat my Craisins in peace.

Sometimes I think I would like

to have the memory of a dog,

it would make me more forgiving.

Someone tells me to imagine

my troubles as leaves floating

away in a river, so I ask them why

men have giant mouths

and there I go again fucking

things up with my politics.

Yesterday a white guy tried

telling me what it’s like to be a woman

of color so I placed my hands

in his mouth and ripped out his vocal cords.

I am not a political person.

Let’s talk about the moon.

It’s so pretty tonight.

No. Fuck that. I am the moon.

***

Photograph of Noor Hindi by Noor Hindi.


Noor Hindi is a Palestinian-American poet who is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry through the NEOMFA program. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry, Glass Poetry, Jet Fuel Review, Diode Poetry Journal, Foundry Journal, and Flock Literary Journal. Hindi is the assistant poetry editor at The University of Akron Press and a reporter for The Devil Strip Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @MyNrhindi, or visit her website at noorhindi.com. More from this author →