Price of America
After K-Ming Chang
In this country, the nearest mosque
is four miles away, but we still hear
the sputter of gunshots more often
than raindrops. We bought home
from a white farmer’s reddened fist.
A man who called my mother a curvy
roti, sold us his animal shed for more
than we would ever be able to pay
off. This place still smells of rabbit.
Like the rabbits, we are also
born from surrender
born for slaughter.
Tonight, my mother remembers
all the stillborn daughters
she left behind. Converts our bedroom
into a mosque. Wooden slabs sponging
greasy incense like light. She tucks
a towel choked with holes under
my thighs, calls it a prayer
rug. When the space between
the trigger pumps
is long enough for us to count
my mother and I open our arms
as if we have something left to give.
Our bodies are the cheapest
property to purchase in this country
but we still can’t clutch enough
pennies to call them ours.
Maybe in another life
we are born rich
enough to live. To worship.
Birth immigrant children.
I don’t know how much
it costs for god to answer
our prayers, only that we
can’t afford it. Still, we are trying:
Please. Allah, remember the children
we miscarried again and again
our bodies knotted like flesh
wounds, organs pulled out:
will this always be the price
of survival? Allah, we
were carried into this world
to die. Let our last breath
be an answer. Allah, please.
Birth our generation
from your holy tongue, teach them
what our fathers never taught
us, let them be better than
this. Let them be better than us.
Sarah Fathima Mohammed is a brown, Muslim-American emerging writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is fascinated with poetry as a means of fostering empowerment and awareness for her immigrant Muslim community. She has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the National Poetry Quarterly’s Editors’ Choice Prize, among others. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Canvas Literary Journal, Rattle, Blue Marble Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Apprentice Writer, and elsewhere. When she is not writing, she serves as managing editor for The Aurora Review and reads for Polyphony Lit.