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Friday, February 20, 2009

Fast Day 90 February 20 2009 {Najeemy and James}

Najeemy and James

Najeemy sits in the restaurant.
She is the only African there.
On either side sit Maha and Alice,
thin and white enough to be ivory
earrings on Najeemy's head.

James stays with the children
wearing basketball shoes with neon;
He puts his right hand to his narrow chest,
the armoire of his heart and its desires,
and says that he is honored to meet me.
Intense Jamaican smile.

She met him in Jamaica.
She had an all-night party and returned
to her hotel at dawn to see him nude
within the reflecting pool, washing
as if he owned the place!

Najeemy could not speak.
As he dried himself off, and began to dress,
the boney lightning began to fade from view,
joining the black uniformity of
Jamaica's daytime streets.

They married the same year.
Najeemy sits with us in Al Ameer's,
with me and Maha, Alice and Miss Basheer,
and talks about the age of days and stuff
but wants to be so Sunni!

But a Sunni Lady never
extends herself to shake hands; she withdraws
her hands to rest within the sanctuary
of her breast, hands washed and pure - fluttering
like fearful hummingbirds.

Najeemy yells from afar;
she runs across the street to pick you up
and hug you in her great embrace until
you both are panting and out of ev'ry breath!
forgetting Sunni etiquette!

Najeemy ( not her real name ) is a ebullient African-American lady with whom I studied Arabic.
She loved to read, wrote love poetry, and read tea leaves - among other things.
At one time, she wanted to be a teacher at an Islamic Academy. The academy was Sunni. The basic split in Islam is between Sunnis - such as Saudis, Northern and Western Iraqis, Egyptians, etc. - and Shia - such as Southern Iraqis and Iranians.
Both are pretty conservative.
We would tell her that she would have to become very conservative, if she were to teach. No more reading tea leaves, which would be very much frowned upon as fortune-telling.


Ruth said...


I don't know how you do it.

You do it stunningly.

Maybe I'll be back later with more concrete observations. Have to let it rest on me a while.

Have I thanked you lately?

I guess I do every week.

Montag said...

Thank you.
I may truthfully say this came from people I've met, and it literally popped into my head at about 4 in the morning, together with its meter.

I mope around a lot, saying poetry-like things, gazing at nightingales and Grecian urns and such, all to no avail.
But the first draft - like this one - are often just magic and totally unforeseen.

Ruth said...

Maybe in cases like this, it is written in the air and you write it down. Not to detract a thing from your skill, which is necessary even if it's in the air. Anyway, I think I know what you mean.