Being Muslim

O father bringing home crates
of apples, bushels of corn,
and skinned rabbits on ice.
O mother boiling lentils in a pot
while he watched fight after fight,
boxers pinned on the ropes
pummeling each other mercilessly.
And hung on the wall where we
ate breakfast an autographed photo
of Muhammad Ali. O father
who worshipped him and with
a clenched fist pretended to be:
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
O you loved being Muslim then.
Even when you drank whiskey.
Even when you knocked down
my mother again and again.
O prayer. O god of sun.
God of moon. Of cows
and of thunder. Of women.
Of bees. Of ants and spiders,
poets and calamity.
God of the pen, of the fig,
of the elephant.
Ta’ Ha’, Ya Sin, Sad, Qaf.
God of my father, listen:
He prayed, he prayed, five times a day,
and he was mean.

Hayan Charara, "Being Muslim" from Something Sinister.  Copyright © 2016 by Hayan Charara.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Source: Something Sinister (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016)
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