Fatima Elreda

October 2020

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Photo credit: Motoki Tonn

Where the Wildflowers Don’t Grow

By Fatima Elreda

where the wildflowers grow
is the place where earth exposes her wounds
hope bursts as petals unfold
to pervade the vanishing landscape of memory

where the wildflowers grow
there is almost a word
almost a dream
on the brink of rapture
almost a language
almost a meaning
on the verge of ​everywhere

where the wildflowers grow
time moves quietly
letting things happen
without being seen
soft explosions occur
just when you turn your gaze
crimson poppies dart their heads
and sway to the song of freedom
they open their mouths to ululate
is this the reverberation of joy or grief?

where the wildflowers grow
dispersed across rolling hills
yellow daisies inundate the finitude of Spring
​knowing it won’t last is the reason they bloom in the first place

where the wildflowers grow
the ground utters its prayers
un interrupt ed
forming holy syllables
tangling​ words ​
with the burgeoning roots
of ​divine meaning

where the wildflowers grow
the narrative of the land
is a bunch of unbroken myths and legends
metaphor is ornament
meter and rhyme glorification ​
subhanallah ​subhanallah subhanallah

where the wildflowers grow the shepherd is a poet
abandoning prose
grazing the verses
discussing politics in rhyme
a gypsy weaves garlands into her olive skin
tugs twice at the stems to make sure they don’t unravel
as if to say ​
pitching tents in the soil is useless, the lands must be within you
a mother picks thyme leaves and sumac
this is an act of worship
feeding her children before she breaks her fast
there is always an ​alhamdulillah u​nder her breath

elsewhere​ is a wasteland
pull memory by its decaying roots
pray for rain
a wildflower
will multiply abundantly and magnificently
into a field of brilliant verses

Edition XXXIX

On Days that Repeat Themselves - by Fatima Elreda (Photo by Hakim El Haj).jpgPhoto credit: Hakim El Haj

On Days that Repeat Themselves

By Fatima Elreda

Geometric days
repeat themselves
knitting mornings into nights,

silence weaved into the heavy air
thickened with sunlight.

The pattern does not break
and this nothingness becomes a habit–
involuntary like the throbbing of a slit vein
leaking all over the floor.

Geometric days
measure their own passing
as rhythmically as water drops
fall into abysmal sinks.


Ghorba - by Fatima Elreda.(Photo by Samuel Austin)Photo credit: Samuel Austin


By Fatima Elreda

A transliteration of a word 
that holds memory in its grip,
nostalgia in its creases,
longing along its curves.

I am this word 
that does not belong in this poem, 
an untranslatable element of meaning 
that has not found its way into your tongue–
the unstructured foreignness of an unfamiliar language.

I transcribe the sounds;
yet, I cannot pronounce the pain
because there is no word that I could think of
that could describe this state of estrangement.

We lose in translation
the unspoken meaning
that is understood without proclamation,
the melancholy is
transmitted in the air–
the cause of an implosion
that breaks windows inwardly 
because I am not home. 
But, for some reason,
I know that even when I return 
my soul will remain in exile.

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