Fawziyya Abu Khalid

1959 / Riyadh / Saudi Arabia

Tattoo Writing

Not with your tribe's spears i write
for they are dull
but with my nails
words without walls
Sister,
For you i have inscribed
Love-songs
weaving the sun's rays
to your latticed window .
To tell me you accept
The tribe's traditions and prescriptions
is a concession
to being buried alive
The noble inch or two
of tatoo
over your skin
shall curve a bottomless night
into your flesh
It pains me
to see the tribe dwell
in you sprawling
in your college seat not unlike
your grandmother
who thought she was
a lottery ticket won
at home . A woman
in her twenties
sitting before some tent
shrouded with robes and veils
carrying the spindle
but does not spin .
To hear you talk
about a cloak
the clan's man bought
for you ;
to hear you boast
about blue-blood
the heirs
and chip off the old oak tree .
The Sheik's voice in your voice
cancels you .
Sister
My kingdom does not claim
dowries of cows and cattle
thus the Tribe rejects me
For you are their legitimate child
I am the one disavowed
You belong to lords of virgin lands
I to seasons bleeding flames
How long will they keep raping you on your wedding night?
53