I Have Exchanged My Heart


I Have Exchanged My Heart

I have exchanged my heart
for a new heart
so love me all over again

Look at my eyes
I have filled them from the font
of a new sea

I have exchanged my skin
for a new skin
so let us unlearn the habits we have borne

I have gone and got new cells
so let us start from the beginning
of the bloodstream

Ask me my name
as if we just met
and let us race to love once more

~ From Mohja Kahf’s unpublished love poetry manuscript written in 1999.

(Photo by Russell Cothran, courtesy of University of Arkansas Public Relations Office.)

(Photo by Russell Cothran, courtesy of University of Arkansas Public Relations Office.)

Mohja Kahf  is a Syrian-American poet and novelist.  Her first collection of poetry, E-mails from Scheherazad, evokes the mixture of pride and shame involved in being an “other,” with characters balancing on the line between assimilating and maintaining the habits of a good Muslim.  In addition to contemporary Muslim women, Mohja’s poetry also explores figures from Islamic history including Hagar, the wife of the prophet Abraham, Khadija and Aisha, wives of the Prophet Muhammad, and Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.  According to The New York Times, her writing on contemporary subjects “draws sharp, funny, earthy portraits of the fault line separating Muslim women from their Western counterparts.” Of the intersection of Islam and art, Mohja says: “One of the primary messages of the Qur’an is that people should recognize the beautiful and do what is beautiful. This is not simply a moral beauty but a visual and auditory beauty as well. Conduct should be beautiful, writing should be beautiful and speaking should be beautiful.”

One Comment on “I Have Exchanged My Heart”

  1. elshabaz says: