Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl | Poem by Safia Elhillo

application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl | Poem by Safia Elhillo | A film directed by Donna Lamar

i go quiet for days i turn the color of mirrors
i turn the color of smoke men tell me sometimes
that blue becomes me when i answer my voice
is hoarse from disuse i am afraid of my body & the ways 
that it fails me i faint a woman on the subway platform 
catches me floating into the tracks i become the color 
blue i don’t like to be touched i wonder why
more people have not been kidnapped by taxi drivers 
white men ask me to say their names in arabic
ask where i’m [really from] i am six months
returned from sudan henna fading to look like burns
dusted up my arms i bleed & can’t stop bleeding
i speak & my mouth is my biggest wound
every language is a borrowed joke i catch myself 
complimenting strangers on their english i am six months 
returned from incense smoke to soften the taste of river water 
incense burned to avert the evil eye i see a possessed 
woman scream when a prayer is read her eyes the color 
of smoke & mine is a story older than water


Running time: 4:20

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

Safia Elhillo (born 1990) is a Sudanese-American poet known for her written and spoken poetry. Elhillo has shared the stage with notable poets such as Sonia Sanchez and has taught at Split This Rock.

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