Fawziyya Abu Khalid

1959 / Riyadh / Saudi Arabia

Mother's Inheritance

Mother,
You did not leave me an inheritance of
necklaces for a wedding
but a neck
that towers above the guillotine
Not an embroidered veil for my face
but the eyes of a falcon
that glitter like the daggers
in the belts of our men.
Not a piece of land large enough
to plant a single date palm
but the primal fruit of The Fertile Crescent:
My Womb.

You let me sleep with all the children
of our neighborhood
that my agony may give birth
to new rebels

In the bundle of your will
I thought I could find
a seed from The Garden of Eden
that I may plant in my heart
forsaken by the seasons
Instead
You left me with a sheathless sword
the name of an obscure child carved on its blade
Every pore in me
every crack
opened up:
A sheath.

I plunged the sword into my heart
but the wall could not contain it
I thrust it inot my lungs
but the window could not box it
I dipped it into my waist
but the house was too small for it
It lengthened into the streets
defoliating the decorations
of official holidays
Tilling asphalt
Announcing the season of
The Coming Feast

Mother,
Today, they came to consiscate the inheritance
you left me.
They could not decipher the children's fingerprints
They could not walk the road that stretches
between the arteries of my heart
and the cord that feeds the babe
in every mother's womb
They seized the children of the neighborhood
for interrogation
They could not convict the innocence in their eyes.
They searched my pockets
took off my clothes
peeled my skin
But they failed to reach
the glistening silk that nestles
the twin doves
in my breast.
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