Miss Sahar had spoken of this sister, Asbaha—
morning verb. And as she spoke a sun
had risen over her words. It was the most arduous lesson,
one that required a tearing apart at the seams, a loosening
of crimson thread cross-stitched in seven-branch
cedars and rows of eglantine. To have
become. More than the desolate stretches
of perseverance, more than the eternally flowering fields
of Kaan. To have become. Full fathoms of night
traversed and then a light upon the corrugated metal
and slumped rooftops of the camp,
gilding the limestone of what was or bluing it
from sight entirely. To have become. To pass
from one form into another, chrysalis dwellers
finally cutting the wind with our own wings.
Asbaha—sister of the earliest hours:
from the edge of sky a call to the smallest prayer
and the sunbirds chorusing, their feathers flashing
sapphire, emerald and Fairuz on the radio, her longing
and the day’s headlines dissolved in our coffee cups. To have
become. To sunder a sorrow from our bodies
and rise to soft unburned wicks, to live.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her first book, Water & Salt (Red Hen Press) won the 2018 Washington State Book Award. Her chapbook, Arab in Newsland, won the 2016 Two Sylvias Press Prize. She is the recipient of a 2019 Artist Trust Fellowship and has served as the inaugural Poet-In-Residence at Open Books: A Poem Emporium, in Seattle. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington and an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She has been published in Barrow Street, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Kenyon Review Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day feature.
Sarah Ghoshal’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Arsenic Lobster, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Empty Mirror, Red Savina Review and Broad! Magazine, among others. Her chapbook, Changing the Grid, is available from Finishing Line Press. She earned her MFA from Long Island University and teaches at Montclair State University. Sarah lives in New Jersey with her husband, her ten month old daughter and her dog Comet, who flies through the air with the greatest of ease.