Amira Al Wassif

The same old story

Every time I start to laugh
Somebody invents a new way of laughter
I run to the closest mirror
Burying my swollen face
Counting my disappointments on my fingers
No music in the background
Only the cracking of my bones
Do you hear it?
I see you on the walls
Your purple face waving
Like a curse
I put a hand on my right chest
Singing as if the world dissolved
Between my knees
In this story
Adam didn’t eat the forbidden fruit
Just Eve who did
He was busy
Creating a sudden plot twist
God upstairs
Watching in silence
In the mirror
I see your favorite song
Turned into a worm
Crawling toward my belly
Your face
Without features
I ask you
Are you hungry?
You ask me
How did you survive?
And the rest is history.


Prayers from Our House Roof

We were boiling bananas on the roof of our house.
Mother’s laughter clutched the heart of my ears.
She was gossiping with a neighbor.
Mother was storytelling, sweet as poetry. I loved
To watch her tongue play the music of conversation.
They worked on their knees, their noses colored by wood smoke. Boiling bananas was like a prayer
We whispered, sang with faces lifted up,
We made art through peeling bananas, slicing them into pieces to boil on the fire, hoping for a kiss on a cheek
From a bird; an old hymn bathing our exhausted souls.
At the roof’s edge, I overlooked a cavernous grotto, and I saw God cooking for children like me. I watched him prepare the dinner table for them in heaven,
A kingdom of mercy. I stretched my arms to touch the magic, then ran to my mother, whimpering
That I saw God cooking for the children. She smiled but continued talking with her neighbor. I yelled
At my mother for attention, pointing, but she just smiled. I kept watching God make delicious food for one hundred children gathered on their knees around him, longing in awe. I waved to them,
But they didn’t notice me. I imagined the smell from our rooftop carried a kind of hope.
Under my bare feet, bananas peels and two bowls, one for us and the other for the hungry people
In our neighborhood. It became a ritual ever since one hundred children had died of hunger,
One hundred innocent souls vanished. I swear I saw God cooking for them, but no one believed me; they just kept smiling.


Amirah Al Wassif has two poetry collections: For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate (Poetic Justice Books & Arts, February 2019) and the illustrated children’s book, The Cocoa Boy and Other Stories (Poetic Justice Books & Arts, February 2020). Her poems have appeared in print and online publications including South Florida PoetryBirmingham Arts JournalHawaii ReviewThe MeniscusChiron ReviewThe HungerWriters ResistRight Now, and several other publications, and her upcoming poetry collection, How to Bury a Curious Girl, was published in April 2022 by Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC, Fairfield, CA.