Maryam, not of here

I used to see her every now and then, in the University prayer room.
A shawl wrapped around her body with her eyes closed
steadily swaying in the gentle rocking of God’s loving hands.
She could be very animate when talking to her fellow Muslim students,
her laugh sincere and inviting like chiming dinner bells.
The fierceness of her eyes that used to look into your mind,
sharp as a point of a knife, skimming the skin of a pomegranate.

On a conversation we had about wasting food
Maryam recounted her visit to Kabul.
She never sacrifices even a crumb anymore, not after
seeing a starving boy search through a pile of feces.
Looking for anything edible, even a drop of corn
as his mother cried, hopeless in the cruelty of fate.

She will live in America, look around and shake her head.
Young boys will sit in front of a television for hours at a time
become murderers in pixelated camouflage fatigues.
And to the people here, war is exactly that – a game.
Not that constant thief, taking away mothers and children
leaving burnt skin and broken houses in its footsteps.
Afghanistan is just a fantasy land, far away as Middle Earth.
The sound of a pistol will never deafen us when we sleep.

Once upon a time, God came down on Maryam during prayer.
God placed a piece of the Milky Way into her mind.
Skyscrapers and zooming cars melted into the streets.
And she saw things for what they were; dust, metal, rust.
She saw the people around her for what they really were:
purses of eroding pennies, I-phones with peculiar perversities.
They lost themselves in a world of glimmering screens
pale photo shopped bodies hanging over their heads.

Once, I said to her, “I get the feeling you avoid me, somehow.”
She replied, “Daniel, you and I are different.
you live for this world, and I can only see you dying with it.

About the Author

Danyal Kim lives in Chicago where he works at an office job at a government agency by day and writes poetry by night. He will occasionally perform his poems at open mics around the city. He is set to be published in a few poetry magazines, such as the Collective Unrest and Write City Magazine. His greatest joys in life are writing, cooking, and traveling.