A Poem I Like #14


A Poem I Like #14

"Seven Days"

by Sara Bawany

to watch eagerly from glass windows
and feel the vibrations of
melodious qur'an recitation
through these walls against which i lean
but not be able to stand shoulder to shoulder
with my sisters in prayer
and touch forehead
to the ground for eternity
alongside them
is the ultimate test
if ramadan

~ ~ ~

I am caught by the way Sara Bawany wields the tool of context throughout this poem. She begins mid-scene where we are drawn into this setting of someone looking through a glass window. Here she is cutting straight to the surrounding context of a moment. As the poem unfolds, we learn more about what it is that makes the subject of the poem eager in her watching. We learn that the subject is a woman, and this too offers its own important context. Finally, the poem closes, and we discover that all of this occurs in the larger context of Ramadan. What she does not describe here explicitly is the still larger contexts of what Ramadan means to Muslims and what it means to exist as a woman in said context. There are layers here. Wow.

For me, this poem is a reminder of the depth of perspective. I can say certainly that I do not know of the struggle that Bawany describes. I couldn't because I am not a woman. I don't menstruate. I have grown up in a family with many women, so the reality of the female cycle is not foreign to me. Nevertheless, we cannot know the truth of living certain realities simply by being educated about them. Further, what Bawany writes about here is not an experience that every woman knows--it is the experience of a Muslim woman. Being told of experiences that can only be had by those who occupy the intersection of independent identities is a reminder of the importance of perspective. There are truths that can only be described by a Muslim woman. Truths that can only be described by a Black daughter. By a Syrian International Student. By a Caucasian convert. By a Kashmiri brooklynite. By a Haitian astrophysicist. By a Turkish Venezuelan. By a 2nd generation Black Muslim from Brooklyn. So when someone--anyone--comes to us with words to speak, we must listen with patient humility....because they hold truths we have never imagined.

Next Post Poem: Grandpa...It's Me Previous Post Design...design everywhere