Sestina for My Unborn Daughter Without the Family Album
By Hajjar Baban
My mother and I are the same.
Neither of us know simple words
in our languages. Triangle, at all. Love,
sound enough for someone to stay.
I don’t think I can be American
if the place hasn’t given me name
yet? Besides becoming midnight for the process of naming,
how are we alike, dad? What same
way were we beaten in place by America?
By time, dhuhr is the space opening, how to word
the tired silence I have to listen to. To stay
in between our nations, we learn to Love
in someone else’s. I teach my dad loving,
like the thing that smiles name
anew and he swears my chest is empty, makes staying
ritualistic, a chore to submit, to pray the way you’ve read about it, same
as your parents, you have to leave behind words
you search for most. I can pray to God in America,
but not Allah. I wouldn’t know what words to say in American.
I can learn the Quran in between, but still think that loving
is a lie. And it works, I’m here. I can word
my body and outline it but still name
myself some other. How I keep my same
brokenness and verse the claim that body stays
longer than its name disappears. And then, it stays
to haunt you out of the between, America,
but where do you have to go? Same
issue. No place will ever want to Love
you if no one claimed you first. Name?
Hajjar, Hajer, Hajar, Hajir, I think, the words
get confusing when only so many are left to say them. The words
sometimes found from the silence — stay
through maghrib to say they really wanted your other name
the one you’d have if you weren’t American.
Like I am? Like this place had me and loved
me first when I came? And looks at me in the very same
way? Tell me to stay, and watch America
flinch and forget my name. How I love
my mom & Allah & even my dad, but the words? Never the same.
Hajjar Baban is a Pakistan-born Afghan Kurdish poet. She’s a current First Wave Scholar at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she studies Creative Writing, Arabic, and Persian.