I spent the morning at the juvenile courthouse. Speaking in support of a student with serious charges against him. I swore on the Qur'an and took the stand. And spoke more eloquently than I ever have.
(the privilege of language)
Later, his father asked me to explain the sentence.
Alhamdullilah, I said. Its going to be alright.
We walked together to meet the probation officer.
You seemed nervous today miss, were you?
Yeah. My first time doing this.
Yeah. Mines too.
He and I came to Canada at the same age. Both of us familiar with the sound of ADA’s. And the beautiful things too. Like cardamom in cracks of concrete. Our bodies/dislocated. Mis/placed. Fear of losing home. So we keep it in our cadence.
you don't really have an accent after 21 years of being here, said the guy at work.
don't really? what are you implying? that I have an accent?
no, i mean, well, you speak well for a...
His father sat next to me in the waiting area. Fidgeting with a piece of paper. The crease around his eyes tightening. He looked at me. Smiled awkwardly. Looked at the door, for his son.
It’s ok, I said. He’s with the lawyer, they’re coming soon.
I wanted to hold his hand. He reminded me of my dad. The look of concern familiar. Contained. He had the same kind eyes as my baba. Love.
He has problems for so many reasons, he said. Seven years I wasn’t there.
But you had to come to Canada to work. To bring your family here.
He needed me there with him. I wasn’t there to protect him.
You did what you could.
That’s what I said.
But I wanted to shake him. Scream.
(IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! IT WASN'T YOUR FAULT!)
Regurgitated words trapped in my throat.
(the absence of language)
i breathe this air thick
your cologne cigarette
smoke the past:
absent language scent
across miles of broken earth
daughter translates sore
limbs, travel new terrain
your splintered feet
your tongue tied exile
dettol rose water
tell me how my hands unclenched
with every pause