Age of Jahiliyah

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

My Babysitter Wears a Face Veil by Mohja Kahf

My babysitter, Selwa, wears a face-veil

whenever she goes out

She drives her husbands’s four-by-four

on mountainous truck tires

Only her eyes show,

like the dark parts of Himalayan mountains peeking

through the veiling clouds and snow

She barrels down Livingston Avenue

with the confidence of a teenaged driver,

her children strapped in back

A distinguished gentleman is exiting First Fidelity

Bank-astonished, he pivots!pirouettes!

His suit corners flutter delicately

He becomes for her a businessman ballerina

He can’t see

her grin, but she does

A middle-aged woman customer is transfixed, and twirls,

in her Eva Gabor wig, on a stool at The Hungry Peddler

Selwa thinks it’s delicious,

whatever she’s eating

A young pink-collar worker

on her way to Johnson and Johnson’s

in a bright blue Nissan, stops and stares,

bared lipstick in midair

Selwa waves at her gaily

My babysitter steps on the brakes

and the continents grind, shifting

gears: Then henna,

howdahs, saffron, gold embroidery,

and Circassian queens on elephants intersect

with Allied Movers’ tractor-trailers, baseball caps,

suction-cup Garfield cats, Calvin Klein

mascara, and a pack of Camels on the dash;

Zuleika meets the Marlboro Man across a delayed green

The secretary-next-door is face-to-face with Laila

Somewhere, songs from Guys and Dolls are scrambled

with the soundtrack of Khali balak min Zuzu and both

are drowned out by The Monster Truck & Auto

Show-Show-Show of the Century-ree-ree

At intersections do drivers know

each other for a moment?

Is it the lull, the looking in glass,

the lane lines, the language

of light and movement-

Is traffic transcendental?

Do Selwa and the woman with the lipstick

and the trucker see

behind the blind spot for an instant?




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