teach me to speak a language we both understand
textbook terms and invitations won't be enough
my jokes are born in the way i handle a language about which most fancy dance or tiptoe
i wear these words from my head to my soles
and yet i don't know how to weave them in a way that will make you laugh in your bones
but you know my name
you spoke into flame an ember that had been glowing in this chest
ever since the muslim who named me packed his things and left...
teach me how girls flirt in the east
do they bat their lashes? eyes peeking at you from a sea of fabric
or is it altogether bold enough to simply meet your gaze?
i will not hide behind a veil or long sleeves
but if it pleases you, i will talk as if i know nothing of bedroom scenes
does the pressure of your eyes on mine indicate
that girls who wear red lipstick, white tank tops, and blue jeans
are the kind you find intriguing?
and are you more than a little scandalized by the obvious line of thigh under denim?
were you shocked by the prevalence of half-bared breasts
on the sidewalks at the university?
did we make you think of all the things
you hoped your sisters would never let a stranger see?
i know nothing of the desert that birthed you,
the Red Sea that nourished your youth.
teach me what it means to live in the seat of everything the West considers ancient and holy
teach me how to hold tradition in my left hand and progress in my right,
teach me to balance progressivism with hindsight.
teach what an Arab man sounds like when he cries...
you are standing within arms reach
looking boldly at these eyes that still can't see
and i feel like there's still an ocean between us.
the olive tone of your skin
eclipsed by the soothing and wholly masculine timbre of your accent
are nothing when put up against the depth of your eyes.
perhaps you were drawn to me because your eyes and my skin understand the intrinsic, earthy, beauty of the color brown.
so delicate, forming each word deliberately,
curving with a grace abstractly akin to femininity.
i admire the raven waves that crown you,
lose my gaze in their shimmer and fall,
wish to run fingertips through them because I know they are feather-soft.
you are Adonis;
i am afraid and in awe of your mystery.
i fear the coyness of the goddess in me
who sometimes hides and sometimes presents herself
with a startling display of passion and fury.
perhaps you should not teach me anything
lest your lesson wash away the smoke screen between us
and leave only a thunderous cavern of cultural inability in its wake.