Mama Says

Thank God we didn’t lose anyone this summer / when we were
kids / this heat brought news of the dead / like mangled storks
who’d forgotten how to give / one year we lost our neighbor /
then his kid / then an uncle / so maybe summer has always
been about the sweat on our faces / maybe being called in for
lunch is just another way of saying there is not much time left
to enjoy this food / before it is cold / before we are too /
before another knock on the door forces the prayers we
memorized too early / thank God I can feel a breeze / thank
God the pavements are only stained with iced tea/ and chalk
before it is washed away / I hope you never know the feeling
of melted ice cream at a funeral / I hope it only comes in the
winter / when the sun finally remembers what it’s like to be
dimming / and pities us enough not to beam / thank God we
are still here /thank God you have come in / eat, habibti /
eat while you are still warm.


AJ Saleh is a Palestinian-American poet with a focus on community organization and activism. AJ currently resides in the Greater Chicago area, where they are the President of the writing club at Purdue University Northwest, leading workshops and meetings that intend to increase outreach and engagement within the community. They are also the co-founder of Kuwait Poets Society, hosting and curating open mics, poetry slams and poetry/music exhibitions. AJ is currently collecting their work into a forthcoming chapbook.

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