Lisa Suhair Majaj
My newborn’s skin was so satiny to the touch
I worried my hangnails would catch and rip her.
I bent my face to her downy head, touching my lips
to the soft curve of her skull, bones soft
and unmolded, hair wispy and damp, the odor of birth
still emanating from her as if from a new-baked loaf,
musty and sweet. I could have spent forever
with my lips pressed to her infant flesh, but hunger
had other agendas. Her wail pierced my body,
sent electric cramps through my still-open womb,
milk sparking through my nipple, as her toothless gums
clamped down and pulled, tugging milk fiercely
from my deepest core, flooding us both with the essence
of life. It’s the primal touch we don’t remember
that shapes us. The first time my daughter opens herself
to another’s caress, will her body recall that first flooding of love,
light touch of lips and hands, life-force expanding in a milky rush
as I drew her body to my body and gave suck?
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the bobbins in the heads
Am doubting the beginnings
dreading the ends
shall I drink up love’s cup to the dregs?
Here I am standing
with the white thread
for dawn to break, to
tell me: “you are right”
would I break the fast
at sunset in that sea
with love dates and glasses of ecstasy?
Or pledge eternal abstinence and see?
the black ones and the reds
Emily Dickinson’s ‘yarn of pearl’
or Hafiz’ smiling faces at the deathbeds?
Should Ariadne have supplied Thesus with the thread?
left deserted on the island
and mine with God cut–
I miss Him so
need to quickly make a knot
and climb to Him
follow the thread
would my mouth smell of smoke
and my lips taste wine?
Would there be traces
of squeezed grapes?
Methinks I’d want God to check my mouth
then smile and say,
“I am satisfied”
Imen Bennani is a Tunisian teacher and scholar. She graduated from the faculty of Arts of Sousse (Tunisia) where she worked as assistant and taught English Literature. Imen Bennani made her MA on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and is currently preparing her PhD on contemporary Arab American Poetry. She now works as researcher at CEREDICREC (The Center for Research and Studies in the Dialogue of Cultures and Comparative Religions), Sousse, Tunisia. Her fields of interest include American Literature, Arab Literature, and Literary translation.