Aroob Solaiman

mother / maa

I find solace in empty rooms, rainy days,
and the quiet breathing that escapes her lungs.
Tonight, I can only hear the sound of her dreams.
As she lay there in the darkness, her bed became sand in a desert
and the ceiling became the night sky of distant land.
I touched her black hair that formed curls she did not like and smelled rain .
The last time she was drenched in it,
the last time she danced in it, laughing at the luck of women.

Her memories are safely hidden under embroidered quilts
made by aging spinsters who recollect their lifetime
with every interlacing thread,
youth lying incredibly still under the red veils
of brides on their wedding day,
the clink of their bangles louder than their voices.

Her hopes lie under prayer rugs on a dusty shelf
in a house built on dreams both waiting and gone,
and here she is, craving to go back home,
away from foreign land and a language she does not speak.

Laying beside her with our heads on the same pillow,
wondering if I should tell my secrets in exchange for hers,
I touched the palm of her hand and felt the damp grass on a meadow,
the calm sky dimming as sheep flew over my head.

Are you happy? ’ I ask in broken, hesitant syllables—
and she does not answer.

Rain begins to fall again,
drenching our black hair that formed curls we did not like,
as we lay there the entire night in silence,
wondering if we'll ever speak the same language again.



I am a foreign language rolling off the tongue.
A symphony only the earth can hear, endless tears
Streaming down her cheeks of muddy soil. Every night an
Old fisherman sails home in my arms, remembering the
Ancient tales of kings, mountaineers, and nomads
Who leave footprints behind on an empty road --
A lost kingdom that I have swallowed whole.
Carved this terrain while washing away generations
Of his people, though I am not guilty of any crime.
It is my job to flow over the earth and her dead children.

A little boy sitting on the land now reaches for my insides,
Wishing to hear the song that has captured my heart.
I hum and sway with the wind’s tune, as he finds a pebble
Near his torn shoe and hides it between his fingertips.
He and the fisherman meet at both ends of the land
Sitting beside me, staring at the sky bleed of a fallen sun.
I wonder if they can hear me breathe. I wonder if they can hear
The pain when the pebble hits my chest. It sinks to the bottom
Of my mouth, sending echoes down my spine.
I cannot breathe sometimes, I want to tell them.
For I hold too many bodies inside of me.


About the author: Aroob Solaiman is 16 years old, and currently a student at Bard High School Early College in New York City. She was raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and is a self-proclaimed 'old soul' who enjoys photography, watching foreign films, and reading the works of writers from all over the globe. Her creative writing is often inspired by her experiences as a young woman of color and a first-generation American. Her poetry attempts to express the struggles that come along with "ancient blood running through ancient veins" - as Langston Hughes said best. They reflect a part of herself that is vulnerable, observant and standing between different languages, cultures, and identities. She hopes that in some way, her poems resonate with the women who read them.