#APoemADay: “To Make Use Of Water” – Safia Elhillo


 to make use of water


i forget the arabic word for economy i forget
the english word for عسل forget the arabic
word for incense & english word for مسكين
arabic word for sandwich english for وله &
صيدلية & مطعم & safia
/stupid girl, atlantic got your tongue/


i think i can take care of myself because i
only broke one plate the day wael died left it
in the sink for hours watched water fill the
seams of the mosaic & only let myself think
once of the crossed ocean how we thought it
was enough to keep us safe



back home we are plagued by a politeness
so dense even the doctors cannot call things
what they are
my grandfather’s left eye
swirled thick with smoke
what my new mouth can call glaucoma
while the arabic still translates to
the white water



i think i can take care of myself
a stranger’s sour mouth scraped
the name off my body but i keep quiet
i am last in the shower line
i let it remain a household joke
how i finish all the hot water



i want to go home



i want to go home



half don’t even make it out or across you get to be ungrateful you get to be homesick from safe inside the folds of your blue american passport do you even understand what was lost to bring you here.


About Safia Elhillo

Safia Elhillo is Sudanese-American, based in New York. She is a Cave Canem fellow. She is a poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, a journal of black expression. She won the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize alongside

Visit our website every day in May for our #APoemADay series to celebrate Africa Month.

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