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Seven Years of Silence

Zein Sa'dedin

After I left, I would unroll my ‘r’s every morning,
train my letters to lie flat against the bottom of my mouth.

I would smoothen out every syllable,
soften my ‘s’s and speak in a slow drawl.

I would practice my ‘p’s in the bathroom mirror,
careful not to crack it with my accent.

I would rinse the guttural ‘d’ out with mouth wash
and force myself to love the emptiness between my teeth.

Before I left, I would recite Darwish every evening,
and watch my teta fall to the floor five times a day in devotion.

She told me Arabic is the mother of poetry,
counted her prayer beads ninety nine times a night with our names.

She painted pictures of Jerusalem’s olive trees,
showed us the scar she carries on her wrist from a broken fence.

Two weeks after I left she died of a collapsed lung
and since then my tongue has become a foreign entity.

I’ve forgotten how to make it speak of her.

‘Seven Years of Silence’ was published in 2016 as part of the UEA Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology, Undertow.

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