Age of Jahiliyah

A blog of wide and varied interest, including Islam, Muslims, Poetry, Art and much more.

I Can Scent an Arab Man a Mile Away by Mohja Kahf

My stubbly-chinned,

black-haired, tawny-skinned

Arab male kin, the white-robed

and the black-tied of them,

milling on the male side of a wedding,

can be counted on for many good things:

To be politicized about Palestine

from the third grade, at the latest;

to cushion the tumbles of small children

without pausing in conversation;

to sit on the floor, leaning forward,

elbow on one raised knee and eat heartily,

even if the meal is only stale bread

soaked in broth; and to recognize

Scripture and poetry.

They may be

mustachio’d, macho, patriarchal,

sexist, egotistical, parochial-

They may, as men may,

think themselves indomitable,

being easily manipulable,

-but they’re mine, my

sleek and swarthy, hairy-chested,

curly-headed lovers of the Prophet

and lovers of the Virgin,

sons of the city street and village boys,

wanderers tribal and global.

I know them by the rims around their eyes

I know them by the sheen upon their skin

I know them by the growling ghayns

and gnawing dads and hoarse hungry khas

that rumble up from the hollow in their chests

and fill the throat and swell the cheek,

distend the lips and pearl off the tongue,

and emerge, a language, theirs-ours-mine.

My men, familiar

as the road home,

the threshold of love

I can leap astride their legendary chivalry,

if I remember

what words will make it carry me

aloft, aloft….

Oh, I know those words

I hold those reins

These fine horses won’t,

despite their snorting,

rearing, pacing, bucking,

cavorting, caracoling, won’t escape me.

(God, they look so sexy in those checkered scarves.)



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