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POETRY

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
maps
 
*
 
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
and non-mothers.
 
*
 
Non-mothers expire more quickly/more slowly/ like salt/ even if we won’t admit
it/ even if it never expires.

Rewa Zeinati
Lebanese-American poet, writer, and educator Rewa Zeinati is the founding editor of Sukoon. Recipient of the 2019 Edward Stanley award for poetry, she is the author of the poetry chapbook, Bullets & Orchids (Corrupt Press, 2013). Her work is published in several journals and anthologies including, Prairie Schooner, Guernica, Diode, So To Speak, The Spectacle, Natural Bridge Journal, Quiddity, Mizna, Uncommon: Dubai, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by Refugees, Common Boundary, among others. She’s spent the last decade and a half moving countries and cities in the US and Arab region and currently considers Metro Detroit her new home.
Submit your work! Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, seeks high quality submissions from both emerging and established writers. We publish craft essays and interviews as well as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—and we want to see your best work, regardless of form, style, or subject matter. We read general submissions from May 15 - August 15 and from March 15 - April 30 for our ProForma Contest.

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