Four Poems by Maha Zimmo

by: Maha Zimmo

In these poems by Maha Zimmo, the titles are the last thing you come upon. In this way, the poet pulls the reader into the disjunction and confusion first and second generation immigrants experience as they forge personal and cultural identities, “a diaspora inside a diaspora,” where one might “choke// on golden sand dust.”

i was born
by the salt-waters
of the Mediterranean,
covered in grains of golden sand dust.

today’s popular narrative
that –

she has never fallen into beauty,
is at present without it,
will never find her way to magnificence.

that –
the way of the civilized
is inside of clean lines and perfect beginnings
without pain. error. mess,
revolution. –

that –
the way of the civilized
is in light(er) skin. straight hair. small & efficient features
surrounded by highlights of feather.

that –
the way of the civilized
is british, and then american-accented
with emotions held at bay,
locked behind closed doors
because what is an emotion
but a confession to an unsolved problem,
& the civilized
they have no problems
and so,
(too) logically,
no emotion.

that –
i would
on grains of golden sand dust
in salt-water

-the lies i had to unlearn


as companion
to her zaatar sandwiches
raining olive oil –

my grandmother
cried salt-water tears
into her soil
growing cucumbers
and offered her daughter
as sustenance
for the long walk
to Canada.

it is why
salt-water seeds of home
and spring
in my mother’s belly.

-an immigrant’s mother’s intention


i was ruptured from my father
broken into small fragments
lost to myself,
a diaspora within a diaspora.

i learned
that he too had been splintered

he came searching
carrying a bag of silk
edged in gold
opened with a richness of apology.

he gathered within it all of my pieces
still filled with the softness (i thought was lost)
spoke fire into each
and welded me whole.



i walked into his open mouth
searching for the right sentence
found the end of its thread
pulled it out after me –

i passed it through an eye
and wove it into wool
writing a novel
to calm my heart

-security blanket


Maha Zimmo is a Canadian Muslim feminist born in Libya, and of Palestinian roots. She holds a Master of Arts in International Legal Theory; is a former political analyst for several online journals including rabble, has been writing for 13+ years at onefemalecanuck(dot)com, and is currently the resident advice columnist at Chai Latte Diaries, as well as a regular contributor at sister-hood magazine.

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