Start like this.
It wasn’t until after the Twin Towers fell
and I heard my father say under his breath
Please don’t let it be a Muslim.
Fold lengthwise bottomside to topside once
and then once again.
It wasn’t until after the bullying and harassment
started at school, never mind the difference in spelling:
Hussain vs. Hussein.
Bring the ends together.
It wasn’t until after I was thrown off the 147 bus in Chicago.
Get the hell off my bus! Get! The! Hell! Off! MY! Bus!
School ID card too Arabic to be human.
Now concertina by folding backwards and forwards
towards the hoist edge.
It wasn’t until after all of these things that I began to fold,
to beg the women in my family who wear hijab
to please fold it neatly and put it in the closet.
Why make a target of yourself? I’m so scared.
Keep the Flag bundled by winding the halyard
around and under itself.
I take notice of strangers in hijab riding public transportation,
position myself to get to them quickly if anyone starts anything.
If anyone decides screaming, tugging, pushing,
pulling, spitting, stabbing, shooting
are methods of communication
best reserved for Muslims. Migrants. A perceived touch of
Any New Zealand citizen may have
the New Zealand Flag on their coffin.
The first quarter should be draped over
the left shoulder of the deceased.
The Flag should be removed before the casket
is lowered into the grave or, at a crematorium,
immediately after the committal.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
50 dead in terror attack at New Zealand mosques [CNN]
After New Zealand Attacks, Muslim Americans call for action against rising bigotry [NPR]
Alia Hussain Vancrown has published in journals and magazines in print and online. Her poetry has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She was selected to participate in Winter Tangerine’s 2018 workshop, Singing Songs Crooning Comets, featuring seminars by Kaveh Akbar and Aricka Foreman. Alia works at the Library of Congress in the Law Division. She currently resides in Maryland.
Photo by Ghiffar Ridhwan.