I am five years old
& my hands are empty
My biggest concern is finishing my za’atar sandwich
Before I go home.
I am seven.
& my hands rip up another spelling test I failed.
& shove the scraps in the side pocket of my backpack
I go home with a mouth full of lies.
Mama, I passed.
I am nine.
My best friend says she no longer wants to talk to me.
I look for another hand to hold.
I find no one.
I am eleven.
My hands hold novels instead.
I am thirteen.
A kid in school tells me my fingers are fat.
I walk with my hands inside my pockets.
I am fifteen.
I obsess over exams.
I am seventeen.
My hands are windshields to my rainy eyes.
I am nineteen.
I am a blur. A paradox of right & wrong. Of self-love and loathing.
Of heartache and shelter. Of motivation & idleness.
I am home to all the broken boys. My hands find someone to hold.
I am twenty-one.
My hands are empty again.
I read the news and see terror. See Muslims afraid of saying they’re Muslims.
See absurdities see pain see broken things I can not fix with my two. empty. hands.
I am twenty-one but it feels like sixty-one.
My worries reduce to insignificance
And my biggest concern is no longer a za’atar sandwich.