Ode to Essos
Arya asks what's east
of Westeros, and I think of blown out candles,
wax-caked calloused hands, a history
at the bottom of the river, neither buried
nor capable of drifting away. A temple burning,
and so what? There are no gods here,
anyway. Only flies on ashen cheeks.
Only bloodshot eyes watching mothers
and motherlands being ravaged, fathers making homes
of dirt and absence.
Daenerys asks why these people
can't just give up slavery, and I say:
it's because they were waiting
for it to come out of your sweet
civilized mouths. What else
could convince a savage?
It is said that a thousand white knights
is all it takes to make a ghost out of a people
modeled after mine. How they trample
over the barren landscape, those barbarians,
feeding on themselves, loving nothing
that can't be raped.
What an epic feeling it is
to be unmade by a white man,
and his deceitful pen; how he draws
a chord with it to whip our narratives
proper, prop, background, ambiance, sunny
canvas for foreigners and liberators, backyard
for the rest of the story to grow, empty space
for white feminism to march on over,
call home, call job
Daenerys so woke
she has a black best friend-
sidekick, sacheting behind her.
Daenerys so woke
she has as many White tears
as Western fire. Makes you wonder
what's worse, to burn in one or drown
in the other.
I'm tired of my body being a subplot.
I'm tired of seeing white people parading
my skin on their screens.
Give me a fortune and I will flood Hollywood
with an Arabic tidal wave. I'll buy
every Alexa camera there is, at least one
for every brown child in this country.
I'll tell them to open up
a lens and go wild. Desert sandstorm
or Mediterranean wrath. Behold a screen
of undoing, every pixel a radical act
of color, watch each one dance for us
and no one else.
I want a biopic of Omar Sharif,
as post-colonial Arab prince, starring
Khaled Abul Naga. I want Rami Malek
reciting Rumi in close-up, a crisp contrast
to everything that's been said of our tongues.
I want my name said right, for once.
The next time I see a terrorist
in a movie, I'm filing a lawsuit. The next time
they film a brown mother singing of nothing
but death, l'II cram Fairuz and Om Kalthoum
down their throats. The next time a white man wears
my skin, I'll cut it off, drain the blood, and drape it over
the first shivering brown child I come across.
I will hand them a camera,
tell them to shoot the stars —
watch for their reflection.