On My Tongue

Alycia Pirmohamed

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Bismillah is my first memory.

 

I became a bird in the Qur’an

at hardly eight years old.

 

I opened the dark green cover

and revealed the slippery

 

two hearts: Arabic

and its English translation.

 

On Saturdays, I learned to repeat

passages in Arabic,

 

to recite the Qur’an

in its truest language—

 

otherwise are the locusts

really locusts?

 

I read and read, and yet

I struggled to recite in Arabic.

 

This was not a problem

with my memory.

 

I learned in a week how

to recite the first verse in English.

 

Sometimes I think every Qur’an

has a dark green cover.

 

Sometimes I think I still

become a bird

 

when, in my mind, I remember

Bismillah, ar-Rahman, ar-Rahim.

 

This must be the reason I

​continue to love.

 

On my tongue, there is

a short-horned grasshopper.

 

Bismillah, I reach for you again.

Alycia Pirmohamed, "On My Tongue". Copyright © 2020 by Alycia Pirmohamed. Reprinted by permission of the author.