Country of Origin: Egypt
I am an Egyptian woman
I am an exhausted woman
I spend my night in enjoyment till the morning
watching fantasy movies that I do not afford living
and my day passes through many ordinary tasks
that no one counts.
For instance, today,
was too short to give it a name
I cooked Green soup and rice for the hungry kids
who come home from the mangler
I waited for their little mouths to finish chewing,
I prepared to go out,
not for pleasure of course!
however, I wore some red lipstick,
to distract myself from the burdensome doctor’s visit.
I swallow cars’ smoke every bit of the way,
Do my kids breathe all that genuine Egyptian momentum?
Do they taste that air saturated with sweat, rage and poverty?
Do they swallow that?
Does my old childhood album hold anything more than
Hours spent in public buses and microbuses,
and smoke? Couldn’t it be
the smoke of something burnt, someone burnt?
My kids play in the hospital.
In the physician’s clinic, they jump on the sick bed and grant it life.
In the pharmacy too,
they smile while circling their pink balloon
like any genuine Egyptian mother
swallow people’s looks at them
and throw out orders for my kids to stop living
so that others be happy
whereas my kids are defeated.
Problems lie in knowledge.
A friend once told me that and I did not understand him.
Sometimes man’s knowledge hurts him more than his ignorance,
I know that they have a right
and that I have a right
and that birds should keep flying most of their lives
but when mosquitoes’ bites hurt me,
I banish the birds, inadvertently.
My two birds have slept by now.
They took their medications, in their specific dozes,
those that I recorded
at certain times.
they drank milk just like two playful kittens
now, they want to play a little
or maybe a lot
but it is time for the sleeping train, my dear.
Ended their day quickly
and started my nighty day,
everyday. I prepared
sandwiches, two fruit slices
and some vegetables that they will not eat anyways.
I filled their bottles with love and water
I put some prayers in their bags
and I hid some apologies for my many orders
in the kitchen sink.
I ironed their clothes
that will never stay the same
everyday, my son lies down on the ground after wearing his clothes
my daughter sits to play and draw.
That does not infuriate me anymore
my heart smiles for them only while they are asleep,
like every Egyptian mother!
My heart tries to smile at myself too
some kindness tries to touch my angry soul
and closes her eyes
she says, Hold your thread and create a life,
exchange your angry heart for a young child’s heart,
rock it softly to sleep
now open your eyes again
you are just an exhausted woman.
Thank you to Amber Harris for their inspired edit on this piece and everyone else on the Fiction team.
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