First Poem at 40
by Rewa Zeinati
Everything expires. Even salt. Even if we won’t admit it. Even if it never expires.
I move back to amerka. Not forward like I thought I would. I live out of a suitcase
at someone else’s house. I make a nightstand out of a box of diapers from Costco. I
don’t watch TV. I don’t have an affair. I replace sugar with sugar. And bread with
bread. I make peace with my waist. I get my period. I say enough to cigarettes. To
grass. To midnight. I’m asleep by then. I learn how to breathe at dawn.
I move back to amerka and keep my mouth shut for so long I forget how it feels
to speak. All the seas in my countries are filled with women in wet suits. All of a
sudden, allah. We crawl back to god and make a hyphen out of it. I open my
mouth to say something. I close it again. No god but god. I put my two filthy
hands together and say amen.
We enter the world swimming:
\the first howl/ our mother’s
\the first murder/ our father’s
\the first hunger/ the question of death
We remember our limbs/ we attend our first funeral/ the sea we slept in
vanished/ the sea we planned/ parched/ we are now ourselves the sea.
I spend my life in departure and return. My belly pregnant with the weight of
No matter how far we come, women are divided into mothers and non-mothers.
Men are divided into mothers and non-mothers.
Mothers are divided into mothers
Non-mothers expire more quickly/more slowly/ like salt/ even if we won’t admit
it/ even if it never expires.