The July War, 2006 By Majda Gama

The July War, 2006   

The blistering air in this season of drought
should fetter me to the cool metal
of my student bed, the concrete
embrace of a shady ground floor room
won’t do this afternoon. This afternoon
I am not a daughter of Abraham
whose life can be rendered into black & white
headlines or Biblical parables. I can escape
past Parliament square, where protestors surge
and words like “Save Beirut” are written on placards
that cannot yet emerge from my throat. The rote
words of condolence won’t do:
in the rubble of Saida there is a body in a white shroud;
the wife of a ’48 refugee. Her grandchildren
flee Israeli fighter planes on the road to Damascus
the path behind them erased.

It won’t do to go to Edgeware Road;
smoke nargila, let the Arabic pop music in the cafe
ease the ache of displacement. I wore the Shia sword
there, didn’t ponder Ali’s martyrdom (peace be upon him)
know that a charm worn over my heart
would stop a man in his tracks to ask
if I was Shia, nor know how to answer
as I fumbled at my throat to flip away the sword
that concealed ayat al-kursi, the verse of the chair
that I wear for protection. I swore to him
on my heart
(crossed it, hoped to die) that I am Sunni.

By Majda Gama

Biography:

Majda Gama is Saudi-American poet based in the Washington, DC area where she has roots as a punk, DJ and activist. Two of her poems were picked by Ilya Kaminsky as honorable mentions in The Fairy Tale Review’s inaugural contest, other poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, Mizna, War, Literature & the Arts and are forthcoming in Duende and the Hysteria anthology. As a transnational nomad living between East and West, Majda has permanent culture shock.

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