Bury Me in Arabic

“Morning of goodness to you”

— “Morning of goodnesses”

Or add flowers: “morning of roses”

Always multiply the gift—


“welcome” to “two welcomes”

“a hundred welcomes and kinship and ease”

Keep offering tray after tray of words


When someone fixes your engine

passes food, serves you in any way

say “May your hands be whole and healthy”

They echo “god keep you healthy and hale”


Wishing a sneezer “mercy” is a three-step dance

They reply “guidance and rightness of mind”

You match “guidance for you and me both”

When you cough you get “health”; top it off

“health and vigor!” or raise it “two healths!”


“Luxury” you tell someone fresh-skinned from the bath

“Luxury back” the wet connecting your freckles

to their body’s glow wordstreams you miss when they go


Served coffee? Say “always”

for “may you drink it always with joy”

—envision endless espresso streams at weddings

Just don’t blurt “always” at condolences

when bitter coffee is served—

that wishes them always sorrow


There is one phrase

“May you bury my bones”

spoken only by kin in whose grave

you will, come a day, shovel dirt with whole hands—

it is supreme love

and has no utterable answer

Bibliographical info

Mohja Kahf, "Bury Me in Arabic" from My Lover Feeds Me Grapefruit. Copyright © 2020 by Mohja Kahf. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: My Lover Feeds Me Grapefruit (Press 53, 2020)

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