Sara Elkamel

All my life I wanted to be a gift to the Nile

after Ocean Vuong


Tell me it was for love 
& nothing else. For love is the body’s way of asking for more 

than it can take.


I’ll tell you how I once saw myself with your chest. How one night, after 
you died
a sixth time, we got up to make green lentils, and the grilled cheese I like 
& I stood there washing dishes until my fingers pruned 
and the rest of me 

It was then I learned that in the wrong skin, a woman is like water 
looking itself in the mirror.


In an earlier life, you could tell you were
a person
because when you walked into a body of water, 
your genitals
would mean nothing to a god called Hapi. 

Some days I am Hapi.
Some days I am a woman drowning. 


after LOVE, by Tina Chang

I am haunted by how much our fathers do not know. How a revolution fails because of its titillated dreams, tented chants. My father does not know I have a body I cannot feel or see or – god forbid – touch. Where would I touch a body. The skin possesses me. Without it I would float into a cloud and cease to exist. My father is now pilling coal onto our bad grill. When I was a child he loved home videos and took pictures I don’t remember posing for. He filed them away as if they had never been. How I hungered for his smile, hyper-aware of the passing of time in each version of my childhood. I am his daughter. This is certain. I have a body I cannot feel or see or – god forbid – touch and maybe this poem is my real revolution, my blood is my blood, or is it stolen from my father and running through mine? If I were a delusion you could say my countenance was a flickering album of nothing but lies, or an expression unwinding like a reel into a ceaseless river in another life. Does truth matter when it’s screamed aloud or swallowed in silence? The answer to this makes all the difference.

Sara Elkamel is a freelance journalist and poet, living between Cairo and New York. She holds a Master of Arts in culture journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her writing has appeared in The GuardianThe Huffington PostThe GroundTruth ProjectAhram OnlineGuernicaRiwayya, and elsewhere.