Nadia Ibrashi

Border Interrogation

Your name is Eyssa.
We follow an algorithm here, so let me start.
Where did you get your name?
Are you a Muslim?
You’re might be an assassin
who seems like an average guy,
except for the lute in your bag,
(why don’t you play guitar?)
and a cipher on your phone
(or is this a WhatsApp)?
Do you pray towards Mecca, your little cube in the sand?
Who’s the sheikh (or the guy with the beard) on your speed dial?
What’s that magazine you’re reading? I see pictures of Iraq.
Oh, it’s National Geographic.
Do you hide an arsenal of weapons under your bed,
or just a dish of your mother’s hummus?
Stop fumbling with your coffee and answer me.
Don’t garble your answers.
I know about you, your ancestors who lived
in some godforsaken desert,
traveled with caravans by moonlight,
maybe wrote a few good poems. Do you
agree you’re a failed cultural transplant, were
it not for
that brought you here?
Stop rubbing your prayer beads
like talismans,
no alchemy will save you.
Do you believe your Allah lives in America?
You may speak now, though your words
will be like sugar
crusting the truth.

English words derived from Arabic
-Eyssa: Jesus.
-Algorithm: Al Akhwarizmi, an Arab mathematician.
assassin: hashishin, hashish smokers, presumed to be criminals.
average: ‘awar, defective.
lute: al‘aud.
cipher: sifr, zero.
Mecca: Mekkah, place of worship established by Abraham.
sheikh: shaikh.
magazine: makhazin, storage areas.
arsenal: dar ‘sina’a, house of manufacturing, especially weapons
hummus: hommos, dip made from chick peas.
coffee: qahwa.
garble: gharbal, sift, sieve
caravan: quairawan.
serendipity: serendib, mythical city.
talisman :tilsam.
alchemy: al Kimia.
Allah: contraction of Al’ilah, the God.
sugar: sokkar.