My Lex Luther

There was a time when hearing your name

Chilled my blood and raised my anxiety. 

I’d look around, watching for you,

Nervously hoping to avert your gaze,

Or worse,

Your criticism.

Bully. You terrified me. 

Somewhere between high school and graduate school,

Between apologies and catching up,

Serious illnesses, breakups, and career milestones,

We became friends. 

Worlds apart but closer than many of my colleagues. 

At first, I was skeptical of your remorse,

Wondering if it could possibly be real.

I’d built you up as my vindictive, diabolical arch-nemesis. 

My Lex Luther. 

Somewhere between there and here,

From high school to reality,

You’ve become a cherished ally,

Prince Charming when I was at my lowest,

Treating me to the ultimate luxury,

My body riddled with cancer and chemo,

Distracting me from the fear of death,

Of truly missing out.

The Southern California sun kissing my pale skin,

Carbonation from my first taste of champagne dancing on my tongue,

Sand between my toes, 

your fingers interlaced with mine,

And you, worshipping at my temple,

Delight and care and kindness washing over me, making me whole. 

You restored my confidence.

You showered me with celebration for my recovery and health. 

You glued back the pieces you broke within me so long ago.

And then, like clockwork, you were back to business.

From your cruelty to your kindness,

Our hatred to mutual admiration,

The United States to the Arab World,

You’ve made me feel and made me strong.

Happy Birthday. Every day. 

Momena jaan

My dear, sweet love

We met so close to the pain

You became my refuge

A refugee from my life

You, my safe harbor.
You taught me the love

The effortless, unfettered love

Of humanity

That only an other

Could bring to an other.
Spice Girls, dancing

Secrets, makeup

Dress up, history books

Best friendship.

Innocence. Adolescence.
My sweet Muslim woman

You taught me its beauty

I will preserve your heart

Your past, your future

Defend your honor.
I swelled with the five pillars,

Was embraced by divine love,

Grew from your nuances,

Benefited from your acceptance,

Bowed to Allah.
Never have I ever

Felt more Christian

Until I spent considerable time

With my Muslim family.
I stand for you, your family.

I pray, I cry, I beg for your safety.

Persecuted there, now here.

And yet your love abounds.

If only eyes were open to your humanity.
We are all brothers of Abraham,

Sprung from the same loins,

Pray to the same God,

Vow to uphold the same truths.
Now, we must band in brotherhood

Against all jihadists,

Muslim or Christian alike,

Banded in militant love,

Protecting the divine.

Moments

You never know what moments will hold the most meaning while you’re living them.

This morning, I awoke from a dream I’ve been playing on repeat for weeks now, always ending in the same place: he opens the door to his old apartment, smiles that huge, goofy smile and says, wide-eyed, “HELLO!” The scene ends and I awake. The blue trimming of the doorway, the peeling paint on the door, the narrow landing near the stairwell, the chattering of others coming from inside the apartment. Of all the moments over the years, that one has become a favorite. Especially now. Especially when that smile is gone; the smile that always seemed to open every locked door in my heart.

Moments. 

Where I fumbled with my airplane seatbelt and we locked eyes.

Moments.

Where I saw tears stream from those beautiful eyes.

Moments.

Where he taught me how to properly pour wine.

Moments.

When I first met his dad.

Moments.

When he first called me out on a lie.

Moments.

When he challenged my feminism.

Moments. So many small memories that seemed insignificant at the time but now seem to be the things I remember best. 

Tonight, a stranger asked me if it was better to have a respectful, thoughtful ending to a romantic relationship or one that cuts you off at the knees. 

My response? 

I would never jeopardize the beautiful memories with someone just because the production of them ends. 

Never take the moments for granted. You never know when they’ll stop occurring.

B-One

My breath still tightens when I pass through security.

The original landmarks no longer there,

But the sentiment stays the same.

That children’s playground where I regained my innocence,

The layover where I felt your heart race too,

Running for a flight I no longer wanted to take,

The last time I did not know your last name,

The last time I could believe everything is random.

Comings, goings, boarding, waiting.

Always only just longing for homecoming.

 

(HA, T^2)

The Alchemist

To the one

Who loved this body

Broken, wounded

Ravaged by where others had been

Taking on the darkness

That lived, burrowed deep inside

Drinking from this vessel

Always knowing its poison.
To the one

Who, with eyes like lasers

Gazing deep into this heart

Boring into this soul,

Coated the myelin sheath

Around faulty synapses

Corroded from trauma

From those who’d come before

Strengthening all chakras

Always knowing its depletion.
To the one

Whose uttered words

Like a sacred language

Became the guiding voice

A radiant light in the darkness

Comforting the small child inside

Desperately pleading for reassurance

Coursing through these ears

Into these veins

Filling empty spaces with compassion.
To the one

Who, now with this body nearly restored,

Has drifted away

In need of wholeness

Of detoxification of spirit

Of compassion and comfort

Of deep, healing restoration

Your essence is enough

Surrounding us both at once.
To the one

Who, with vulnerability and kindness

Taught this broken heart to mend

These broken wings to fly

These blind eyes to see

Who, with gentle wisdom

Taught a body, mind, spirit

To heal, to harness its power.

Who, with divine alchemy

And pscionic power

Revealed the magic inside.
To the one,

Whose healing touch

Still felt on this body,

Whose stare,

Still slowing this nervous breath,

Whose voice lingers in these ears,

Whose mage hand, holding mine

Still guides this soul through the dark river

Whose alchemy,

My constant companion.

Never to be alone again.

Radiation

There’s nothing better,

Nothing brighter,

Nothing more beautiful,

Than watching that smile

Creep across your face.

The way it spreads so evenly

From your lips parting slightly

To the curling of the ends,

Simultaneously.

Even if it’s not for me.
There’s nothing better,

Nothing more like home

Than the radiance,

Shining through your eyes,

Relaxing your shoulders down your back.

Even if not toward me

I feel the sun from your rays.
You were once mine

And right now,

It matters little.

Just knowing you were once mine

Tells me I’m worthy.

For a time I held the moon!

I was enveloped by your radiance.

I was caught by your gravity;

I could let go and just…

Orbit.
And still

I feel your warm rays on my skin

Like the first day you pulled me in

Swirling in your orbit

Bathed in your radiance,

My cells exploding,

My chemistry changed.