Everything has gender
in Arabic.
History is male.
Fiction is female.
Dream is male.
Wish is female.
Feminine words are followed
by a circle with two dots over.
They call it the tied circle,
knotted with wishes
which come true only when forgotten
or replaced by the wishes of others.
In the town of tied wishes,
people feel great anticipation
because a stranger will arrive
today in her feminine sign.
Someone says he saw her
two dots glittering,
refuting another’s vision
of a cat’s eyes hunting in darkness.
So scary, he says, how the moon
hides in her red circle.
Everyone is busy today
listing wishes on pieces
of paper they’ll give to the wind.
When the stranger finds them
on her way, she’ll collect them
and garland them to her circle,
tossing some old wishes
to make space for the new.
They say the dropped ones
will come true.
The stranger’s lateness
worries the waiting.
Someone says she’s searching
for a word to complete
a special sentence,
the gift she’ll bring to town.
Another wonders if she seeks
a verb or a noun,
offering to find her.
A third warns that the stranger
may turn him into a flower
with one touch, blooming
for only a moment,
before a withering death,
and her circle throbs with songs
causing sadness and elation,
and something so obscure
no one has a name for it.
Will she complete a verb
or a noun phrase — or give a solo,
a word complete on its own?
They wonder.
When they finally hear footsteps,
they know the stranger must be near.
Make sure the gate is open,
they remind one another.
They hear clinking —
A bracelet? A chain?
Source: Poetry (July/August 2018)