Someday you will be told that a woman’s gaze
must never stretch as far as a man’s.
That his should
soar above the seventh heaven
-like shooting stars between planets-
to find himself on Saturn’s rings
yours must never exceed the ceiling of your house
because you were made different.
lies in the cleanliness of kitchen shelves
the dust between radiator and wall
the stains on both carpet and floor-
because you are a woman…
But this poem is called woman
Called mother and wife.
It is wombs stretching-
filled with pain and love,
lungs pumping life into new body and soul-
housing, embracing, caring, creating.
This poem is called woman,
It is hearts breaking-
Aching for both infant and man.
it is tender, patient , loving,
and always, always, always-
This poem is all woman.
The night you are born
I will take you to see the moon-
Full and bright –
it’s reflection filling the tiny pupils of your eyes
And your father and I will
Argue about whether to call you
“Shamsa” after the sun
Or “Qamar” after the moon.
Your thirteenth birthday is when I will read you this
And heartbreak and boys.
You will be as tall as me,
Your breasts emerging, hips curving
And your lips stained pink
Because you are learning
That being beautiful-
Is more important to the world than being real,
And that everything you ever did would always be labelled
“Not bad for a girl”
And that in some places-
Having a daughter
Still brought shame on families.
But this poem is called woman,
Is all woman
This poem is a reminder of what it means
To descend from a line of women
With the strength
Found only in martyrs
who set themselves on fire to save their kin.
This poem is all heart.
It is to remind you
That you share blood with women
Who march with shrapnel in their thighs
But fall to their knees the moment
Their grandchild frowns,
The same women who carry in the
Wobble of their arthritic joints
More strength than humanly possible.
This poem is because you are one half of life,
One half of body and soul.
This poem is because
You are a moon
And you must never forget
That you possess in you
The strength to shine
When enveloped in darkness-
To smile when drowning in pain.
They might say
That a woman’s gaze should never stretch as far as a man’s.
No, yours must stretch further.
Because you are a woman,