Manifesto for the Chaste Wanton


Manifesto for the Chaste Wanton

She will be your wild mare
at night, but in the day
she’ll blush if you glimpse a nipple
through her blouse & look away

In private she’ll pounce, a panther,
to tear you flank from thigh
but outside, one rough word
from you & her passion will die

There’s no feral depravity
you’d not drive her to in bed
Come morning, she’ll hide in your chest
like a child, from all she did

~ From Mohja Kahf’s unpublished love poetry manuscript written in 1999.

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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.”


4 Comments on “Manifesto for the Chaste Wanton”

  1. Ouch. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But it seems to play right into the hands of orientalism, and the whole concept of oh we’re so chaste but tigresses in bed. Not EVERY woman that is modest in general will be a tigress in bed. :/

    • Texmex desi says:

      I believe ludacris also said it quite poetically…

      “We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed”

  2. Ayesha says:

    She is fantastically talented, every piece of hers never fails to amaze me.