Tayamum, Beautiful Dust

A Poem by Shameelah Khan


Tayamum is the Islamic act of dry ritual purification using sand or dust, which may be performed in place of ritual washing (wudu or ghusl) if no clean water is readily available. Generally done before the prayer. 


What makes me
worthy-of-love
someone-like-me-
is my openness 

to -be- seen

And at the same time
I conceal
In order to heal 

Just like you
Who grew up with histories, 
Named them 
Complexities or ambiguities 
In the finding of our 
grand-mother’s hands
when they did more
than press sorrow into dough
or cultivating their ancestral lands 
When language was
More than a violent thread hanging low
On our doorsteps
Knowing that one day
all of this joy
Could-go-away

Never being told
how to be there for each other
How to be bold
When father’s 
working-militant-boots
walked down the road,
The-sad-old-looping-song
From the long-nights-hoping-
God would hear our thoughts

Some love-stories are not like 
Water before the prayer
But, for-

Someone-like-me
It-is-harder
To-be-worthy-
Bound to the Earth
It sings of raw-ness
an-unrequited restless-mess

I come

And I go

I live here 

And I know 

That inside of me is a home,
Where a worthy-little-girl
A girl-like-me, 
All-alone 

Must learn to trust
For my love is not like water, 

it is like, 

Tayamum, 
Beautiful-dust