In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Even though you no longer believe, you wake with me
before dawn. You prepare my breakfast: porridge, sliced banana,
a cup of tea, a glass of water. While sunrise hesitates,
you hold my hand and watch me, the one who will fast
for the month, dawn to sunset in these blessed weeks.
I know you remember taking those last gulps of water before
the long days; the sweet taste of dates after hours without food.
Sleepy, you kiss my temples and go back to bed.
I wash my limbs and hair, wet my face, rinse my mouth.
My feet are damp on the wool of your old prayer rug.
I lift my hands and say, God is greater,
prayer is better than sleep. I recite the words,
press my forehead to the ground. Over each shoulder
I whisper, Peace, and ask the angels to pray for you.
When the prayer is finished and the holy book rests quiet,
I slip back into bed, and your arms welcome me, the rising sun
just beginning to crack through the curtains.
Ramadan ends tomorrow, and we are in the airport cafe,
quiet. The city has started celebrating. As we arrived in Kuala
Lumpur, fireworks bloomed in the sky. Our next flight has been
delayed: the winds are unsettled. You stir your tea; your toast
uneaten on the plate. You cannot believe in God;
my days and nights are punctuated by prayer. I have not yet
forgiven you for your unbelief. You sweep the wayward strands
of hair back under my scarf, but you will not celebrate with me,
will not believe no matter how much I want you to. You lean across
the table and say, Happy Eid, my loveliness. The weather calms
enough to fly home, where I make basbousa for the neighbors
and you stand next to me on their stoops, wishing them joy
and peace. After their doors close, we return home,
our hands clasped tight. What can be done?
I am an unforgiving person who loves you terribly.