(to my wife, nālani
and our 7-month old daughter, kai)
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Here’s your auntie, in her best gold-threaded shalwaar
kameez, made small by this land of american men.
Everyday she prays. Rolls attah & pounds the keema
at night watches the bodies of these glistening men.
Big and muscular, neck full of veins, bulging in the pen.
Her eyes kajaled & wide, glued to sweaty american men.
She smiles as guilty as a bride without blood, her love
of this new country, cold snow & naked american men.
“Stop living in a soap opera” yells her husband, fresh
from work, demanding his dinner: american. Men
take & take & yet you idolize them still, watch
your auntie as she builds her silent altar to them—
her knees fold on the rundown mattress, a prayer to WWE
Her tasbeeh & TV: the only things she puts before her husband.
She covers bruises & never lets us eat leftovers: a good wife.
It’s something in their nature: what america does to men.
They can’t touch anyone without teeth & spit
unless one strips the other of their human skin.
Even now, you don’t get it. But whenever it’s on you watch
them snarl like mad dogs in a cage—these american men.
Now that you’re older your auntie calls to say he hit
her again, that this didn’t happen before he became american.
You know its true & try to help, but what can you do?
You, little Fatimah, who still worships him?