There is luggage where there once were hangers;
Highways in an un-walkable city
& tea lights around Leila’s bed.
Leila‘s name means night in Arabic.
Night, dressed in the femininity of the last letter that makes it singular.
Her eyes carry the colors of mustard trees in a Californian summer,
soaked in the depth of a blue ocean underneath a grey Scandinavian sky.
Leila, whose doors were open when there was nowhere I could call home.
She comes from two countries - one bullied & one bullying -
prides herself for being half Arab in a country where Arabs with broken English & foreign passports use stage names because why be patriotic when you can exchange your identity for a pocketful of dollars?
There are beaches instead of rivers here,
Men with eyes hungrier than the ones in the Middle East,
& clouds that look a lot like explosions.
There are academic books where there once were novels,
Indifference where there once was sorrow,
& patches over my blistered bones.
Still, there is Leila,
Who writes about me with the intricacy of a eulogy
Even when I am still breathing.
She drives recklessly, calls herself forgetful,
& marvels at the landscape of mountains & palm trees in the same conversation.