Broken Ghazal: Speak Arabic


I write in English the way I roam foreign cities—full of light
& betrayal, until I find a coffee shop that speaks Arabic.

If we were born in the cities we long for, Love—Paris, Prague, New York—
what languages would they have taught us to speak? Arabic

says the best singers are the peddlers. & the Qur’an,
would it still lift us if it didn’t speak Arabic?

Sure, there is always Lennon, but I wonder if we would have found
Sheikh Imam, who reminds us the wound is awake & love speaks Arabic,

who reminds us no one can colonize a river, & the tyrant
is always afraid of the poet, especially if she speaks Arabic.

They say people who grow up in two languages have stronger
memories, & they can hear the birds on the balconies speak Arabic,

& they know a mountain of orange life jackets looks like
spring, though it won’t revive the dead, who speak Arabic

but no longer need a visa, or translation. & you, Zeina, what else
can you do but whisper to these broken lines, Speak. Speak Arabic.

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