In this blessed month our pleas pass,
without inspection, through the wide open gates of heaven, and the angels fly, on high alert, grandmother would say, then turn to me and ask why I didn’t fast.
With some logic, a surge of hormones,
and much fright, I had dislodged God from the cavity of my budding soul.
I stand today in the corner, by the backdoor,
a secular man, wary of metaphysicians. I am puzzled by how certain the worshippers are that their deeds deserve hell and heaven, how perfect they think they could become.
Who will stop the vengeful ghosts
of my transgressions from stalking me in my sleep? Neither love, travel, nor art, neither books nor consuming cause could fill the great hole He left behind. God is bulk; I could make up only retail:
The young men’s gelled hair glistens,
like cotton fields in summertime. A blind man hawks electric plugs in the aisle. A woman, spurring a little girl in front of her, begs with a singer’s perfect pitch. Another firmly holds a basket of dates and nuts and tangerines — as if holding a perishable eternity.
The train hurtles through the tunnel.
The angels tap on the roof. A chthonic preacher declares from a tape: The journey of the pious is long.
This is the first of three poems by Sharif S. Elmusa that Mada Masr will publish this Ramadan.