En Route to Bangladesh, Another Crisis of Faith

By Tarfia Faizullah Tarfia Faizullah

—at Dubai International Airport and ending with a line by César Vallejo

Because I must walk
            through the eye-shaped
shadows cast by these
            curved gold leaves thick
atop each constructed
            palm tree, past displays
of silk scarves, lit
            silhouettes of blue-bottled
            I grip, as though for the first
time, a paper bag
            of french fries from McDonald's,
and lick, from each fingertip,
            the fat and salt as I stand alone
to the side of this moving
            walkway gliding me past dark-
eyed men who do not look
            away when I stare squarely
back—because standing
            in line to the restroom I want
only to pluck from her
            black sweater this one shimmering
blond hair clinging fast—
            because I must rest the Coke, cold
in my hand, beside this
            toilet seat warmed by her thighs,
her thighs, and hers.
            Here, at the narrow mouth
of this long, humid
            corridor leading to the plane,
I take my place among
            this damp, dark horde of men
and women who look like me—
            because I look like them—
because I am ashamed
            of their bodies that reek so
unabashedly of body—
            because I can—because I am
an American, a star
            of blood on the surface of muscle.

Tarfia Faizullah, "En Route to Bangladesh, Another Crisis of Faith" from Seam. Copyright © 2014 by Tarfia Faizullah.  Reprinted by permission of Southern Illinois University Press.

Source: Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014)

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Poet Tarfia Faizullah

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Love, Desire, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Tarfia  Faizullah


Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing. Her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Focused around a long sequence “Interview with a Birangona,” the book explores the ethics of interviewing as well as the history of the birangona, Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Love, Desire, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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