by Nardine Taleb


I move differently now, with my hands

nestled into the valley of my hips

my lips blush bubblegum pink my eyes two       watchful moons

I smile with her smile and open

the door of new land

with her hands

(my mother)

                                                                        Over the years                I’ve watched countries

emerge from her body once flat land. I’d like to roll her

back into my own

in the safety of              my body her birth place

where strangers

do not mispronounce her name              and the word

“love” is not watered down         I wish to tell her

stay here & be content                           out there

your hair will be touched by someone else

at twenty-five I unlearned my first language

with his body   white    color of the inside of

a peach             his hands nestled into the valley of my hips

and stayed. He plunged into me like God’s breath

and left like a tender word.        I was so naive I forgot

to tell him the translation of my name

I forgot to tell him that I was supposed to wait.

I have a girl      woman once the size of my palm

I am a temple now        sometimes

cracked                                    at the sides

still standing. The people they come and admire

the preservation of my skin       colors of sand &

heritage               in her absence      I tell them come

come & take     I am looking to give love as I have

always done, drink water    from my bare hands

and       sleep    tucked under my pits     I know you

are just looking for belonging    my youth has been

resurrected elsewhere         if you visit her  you will see

there is a God


Nardine Taleb is an Egyptian-American writer and speech-language pathologist based in Cleveland. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University where she received The Finley Foster/Emily M Hills Poetry Award for best poem or group of poems (2015), and the Edith Garber Krotinger Prize for best short story (2017) from the Department of English. She was a finalist in Gordon Square Review‘s prose contest last fall and a runner-up for their poetry contest this spring. She is a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship finalist for the summer of 2020.

%d bloggers like this: