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Muslim Women's Claws

Ndeen leading the March for Humanity
Ndeen leading the March for Humanity: #SanctuaryEverywhere Photo: Jeff Fazio / Jeff Fazio

It was one of those days, it was one of those days where the sunshine blew air kisses onto the river and it gleamed

My mother and I sitting on the edge of its sandy horizon where dirt splits water and grass like the prophet Moses

My mother’s hijab hugs her head the same way she cradles me and my sister

We stare into the river only ever daring to make eye contact through water

I watch her image the same way I do executions

She pulls the pin from her hijab, stabs it into the dirt, trying to find some way to hurt this land back

Unravels her scarf, unwinding a twenty-year-old marriage to her religion

Lets it drift through the wind, her hand shaped blimp still lingering through the air

My mother, giving her life back to its creator

Watching her weep into the river so there is no evidence she had ever cried

But my tears proof enough

A white supremacist becomes president

And the first thing my mother does is give up

And I am saddened down to the bone

An unjust arthritis crippling us both

The whole nation in a coma

And my mother weeping at its bedside

For all her nameless sisters in hijabs and their daughters and hers

And I am saddened and I am shameful

Because my mother does not quit

My mother runs over oceans for her children

She does not weep into rivers

Mom, I am not saying it’s not okay to give up

I am just saying that when you do

Make sure your hand is a claw

Make sure their skin finds home in your fingernails

Staple your hijab to the nape of your neck before you ever let them take it

Muslim women do not get buried without digging ourselves out as Muslim women

Do not flinch at the name of a white man

Us Muslim women do lose faith sometimes

But us Muslim women got a love for Allah like boomerangs

The minute it leaves it is already on its way back

Today we may give up

Today our hijabs may drift in the river

But tomorrow when we do wadu, the cleansing before we pray

And we turn the faucet on to worship Allah for the fifth time that day

Our white hijabs will seep out, tear-soaked and wrinkled

But still as wearable as they have always been

And we will let their president know that twenty years of faith do not blow in the wind that easily

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About the Author

Ndeen Al-Barqawi is a 17-year-old Palestinian poet. She has been doing poetry for 3 years with the non-profit organization Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement. She hopes one day to be an immigration lawyer.

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