My eyes trace the script
of Arabic as you grasp my arm and steer me
through Cairo’s scrolling traffic.
From above settles the call:
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar.
Until language slips like desert wind
past minarets, until language sleeps,
there is no storm so tenuous
as the scrape of swirling sand,
this whirlwind of staccato words
strangely seasoned by Ramadan.
Language slips through desire, steaming like tea —
just after — alone in Mohandiseen,
when desire slips through language.
You hear my whispered voice:
Qalb (the heart that beats) .
To love in a land without language
is to learn to live small in the world,
small and observant; wrapped and subdued
like prayer. To tug our sounds until we shake
each other's echoes. Until
exploding cinders glow in winter's gray,
glow in the hushed shhh of faith.