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Apology from a Muslim Orphan
by Tarfia Faizullah

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
guillotined. I know you know
how to slap a child across the face
with a sandal.
Forgive me. I love when he tells me to be
the water you siphon into the roots
of your trees. In that life,
I was your enemy and silverleaf.
In this one, the child you struck was me.


About This Poem

“’I write to you across what separates us,’ wrote Czesław Miłosz in ‘To Robert Lowell,’ a poem that is an apology as much as it is an acknowledgment of how elusive understanding can be when we are deeply entrenched inside our own experiences. I was moved by both the vulnerability and irony inherent in Miłosz’s poem, which influenced the writing of ‘Apology from a Muslim Orphan.’”
—Tarfia Faizullah

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