A Poem by Dunya Mikhail

From Her Collection In Her Feminine Sign

July 30, 2019  By Dunya Mikhail

I don’t feel the rotation of the Earth,
not even when I see
the cities moving backward
through the train’s window,
one by one.

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Not even when I return
each time to the same place
where birds pick up the mornings
with their beaks and spread them away
as new circles of light.

Not even when I sleep
and see you alive in my dream
and then wake knowing the dead
didn’t rise yet from their death.

Not even when I find myself
saying the same thing over and over
as if those words were oars
cutting through a river
we cross in turns
with our untold stories
to that same shore, in silence.


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By Dunya Mikhail, from In Her Feminine Sign, copyright © 2019 by Dunya Mikhail. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Dunya Mikhail
Dunya Mikhail
Born in Iraq in 1965, Dunya Mikhail worked as a journalist for the Baghdad Observer. Facing increasing threats from the Iraqi authorities, she fled first to Jordan, then to the United States. In 2001, she was awarded the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. Her first book in English, The War Works Hard (2005), was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and named one of the 25 books to remember by the New York Public Library in 2005. Mikhail’s Diary of A Wave Outside the Sea (2009) won the 2010 Arab American Book Award for poetry. Her latest book is In Her Feminine Sign. She currently lives in Michigan and works as an Arabic instructor for Michigan State University.

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