My Mother Was Once a Story

Sally Badawi

Hijab wears my mother. Her jaw pinned 
smooth with pearls: 			

convex mirrors refract evil blue eye. 				
This is to orient a west

in love with detonating stone, 	
in love with hollowing caves 

to fill hungry gaze. 			
My mother once lived	

hair on display		
until she picked the rubble 

from her scalp, shucking shrapnel 	
into the Red Sea. They washed up	

on the coast, beaming moon	
to disorient thieves. A khawaga once stole

my grandmother’s writings. 		
He climbed her stairs,

knocked on her door
and she served him tea. 

When she turned to add sugar, 	
she saw his reflection in the window bending

to lick the pages. 			
To hell with civility. 

When winds unveiled	
a mosque buried in the desert, 

my mother, head covered, 			
banged sticks to keep animals away.

Sally Badawi is an Egyptian-American writer and teacher whose words appear in Diode, Orange Blossom Review, Lost Balloon and elsewhere. She currently serves as an associate editor at Typehouse Literary Magazine in the Pacific Northwest. Find her on Twitter @smbadawi.