07 October 2011

Joanna Catherine Scott

[from Joanna Catherine Scott & John Lee Conaway's An Innocent in the House of the Dead, Main Street Rag, 2011]

In Which You Tell Me You Have Set Islam Aside . . .

I used to dream, you say, that one day
I would take a pilgrimage to Mecca,

but I have given Islam up,
I have taken my name off all the lists,

I no longer go to pray.
Although I pray to Allah in my heart,

I thank him for the Qur'an,
which I also have inside my heart.

Get knowledge and understanding,
it instructs me.

And so I read and read and think,
and argue with myself, and others too,

and have become a wiser person
on account of it.

Which is why I have set Islam aside.
What point is there,

I came to understand,
in fighting with an enemy

who has the upper hand?
What point in setting myself up

for persecution by the guards and wardens
because I wear the Muslim cap

and fast for Ramadan?
A man must act upon his wisdom.

So I have set aside the kufi.
I do not abase myself.

I have light within me, though.
They cannot take that away.

. . . And I Drive Home in the Rain

The fallen sky laying itself out
and laying itself out along the road

like grey-clad pilgrims
abasing themselves full-length

and rising,
and then the abasement

and the rising up again,
end-to-ending themselves

like inchworms inching their way
across grey countryside

toward the holy city,
pelted on, and blown up

into a thousand falling fragments
by lumbering grey trucks.

Gathering themselves together.
Shaking off the insult.

Rising and abasing.
Rising and abasing.

And being blessed for it.
And being blessed for it.

That glittering
spinning off the wheels.

Joanna Catherine Scott

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