DovesPosted: February 10, 2014
Doves Don’t turn from me because of what you see Shall I release the doves for you? They’re in my pockets with the rabbits Believe in the existing but unseen My shoulder is a wild lilac tree Can you afford to pass up love’s canteen? Take a swig against the dryness of the soul And I’ll release the doves and you will see Jump out of your self. Jump to me. I’ll do it with you—one, two, three— Let’s drop these veils together Don’t turn away because of what you see
~ From Mohja Kahf’s unpublished love poetry manuscript written in 1999.
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.”