A Poem

By Wardah Abbas

Bismillah rolls off my tongue
as I guide my finger along the stroke of the alif,
the bend of the lam, and the twist of the meem
the letters morph into words
the words into sentences
my muscles ache, my head hurts
my mind filters the noise
that echoes in our crammed room
my hands bat away angry flies
as my legs kick against the scampering lizards
What was my Lord telling me
through these letters and words?


I hear one of the Mallams say
the one sitting on the long bench adjacent the board
the one whose jinxed fingers found my naive cunt


I hear him say again

“Her legs are not covered
and neither is her hair
Yet she holds in her hands
the words of the Lord”