Susan Atefat Peckham
When one is accepted into the Muslim faith,
it is traditional to also choose a Muslim name.
I bent to the stone and touched my forehead
to its sharp edge. The rug smelled of must
and rain. I wondered if Grandma watched.
She always stood against the light, a dark
glow at the morning window, her silhouette,
a black pillar at the curtain, her hand hanging
white and clean, and how could I
forget her pointing to the Kabob sizzling
on the irons, and she looking to me as if
to say it was all right for me to pick the meat
from over the coals and taste the hot, grilled
But I wanted to do
myself some honor
and choose my own god. There is some
honor in not believing everything they say.
There is some honor in keeping one's name.
I lifted my head from the cold beige stone,
chipped and heavy, the beads snaking
over and around the prayer rug, over
and around the stone and prayed, Allah
hu Akbar, Allah hu Akbar, seeing her blink
approvingly from the light, hearing the noise
of a language foreign to our native land.