She paces Pharaoh’s estate,
marble steps, the bristling tops of trees.
She is restless in her routine.
Couples arrive. She scans their faces,
and the oil stains under the Pharaoh’s SUV.
Every day the headlines scream
plagues, locusts. Another naked child explodes
himself in the market, a frog croaks,
startles soldiers armed to the teeth.
Asiya sits at Pharaoh’s dinner table
with the neo-conservatives nightly.
Why do they hate us? A mystery.
Asiya twitches, passes the pâté.
That they slave to build us pyramids
is only free market forces at play.
The salmon is delicious. We
are entitled to the treasures
of the desert, and to dine in peace.
Asiya fidgets with her blue earring,
lapis lazuli. What is wrong with me,
she thinks. She slips away from husband,
guests, to the back porch by herself,
and scans the blue shining serpentine
river for a twitch, a movement,
for a basket in the reeds.
– From “Hagar Poems” by Mohja Kahf