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About this Poem 

“We recover ourselves through the stories of others. Homer refers to Artemis as ‘Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals.’ In myself, I see her wildness and her desire to weigh both vengeance and compassion.”
Tarfia Faizullah

Self-Portrait as Artemis

It wasn’t long before I rose
into the silk of my night-robes

and swilled the stars
and the beetles

back into sweetness—even my fingernails
carry my likeness, and I smudge

the marrow of myself
into light. I whisper street-

car, ardor, midnight
into the ears of the soldier

so he will forget everything
but the eyes of the night nurse

whose hair shines beneath
the prow of her white cap.

In the end, it is me
he shipwrecks. O arrow.

My arms knot as I pluck
the lone string tauter.

O crossbow. I kneel. He oozes,
and the grasses and red wasp

knock him back from my sight.
The night braids my hair.

I do not dream. I do not glow.
 

Copyright © 2015 by Tarfia Faizullah. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Tarfia Faizullah. Used with permission of the author.

Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf Press, 2018) and Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014). She teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Detroit.

by this poet

poem
O, my daughter, once I was a poor boy
folding peppers into my sarong 
to walk three miles to sell, but what
can you tell me of sorrow, 
or of the courage it takes to buy
a clock instead of a palmful 
of rice to go with the goat 
we can’t afford
2
poem

I know you know
how to shame into obedience
the long chain tethering lawnmower
to fence. And in your garden
are no chrysanthemums, no hem
of lace from the headscarf
I loose for him at my choosing.
Around my throat still twines a thin line
from when, in another life, I was

poem

Sister, I waste time. I play
              and replay the voices of these
hurt women flowering

             like marigolds or thistles.
Something lost, forgotten—
             that picture of you, violin

sewn fast to your shoulder,
             bow in one hand poised