When They Speak of Muslims
They are not speaking of wallahi,
Nike Air Huaraches,
five wings and chips, boss,
turbans and black hijabs,
gold teeth, Jordans, jelbabs and black niqabs.
They are not speaking of halal beef patties,
uhktis and ahkis.
They are not speaking of Fatima who is also Tracey,
nor Mohammed who is sometimes Mo.
They are not speaking of jazz, blues and bebop,
Pharoah Sanders or A Love Supreme,
reggae sound systems
and the soundmen who have found Allah,
of Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley,
Krept, Konan or Little Simz.
They are not speaking of people the colour of ravens,
nor diamond-chiselled cheeks constructed on the jaw.
They are not speaking of rubies where the white should be,
Nor black pupils that eclipse and cling like darts.
They do not speak of crocky high-pitched women
somewhere between crooning and beseeching,
singing and forecasting,
Sallahu Alayhi wa Salam
after each phrase,
perched on rusted stools,
old Coke crates
or tattered old red and green mats made of plastic wicker.
In England they are decorative,
elsewhere they are for prayer and dhikr.
Not speaking of forty bodies stowed in the back of a lorry,
chartered flights to a place that is no longer home.
They are not speaking of crumpled papers
that state you have the right to remain,
the ones police have the rights to restrain,
right to prevent oxygen from getting to the brain.
Instead, they are speaking of Rumi,
of wise men,
They liked me better back then.
When They Speak of Muslims - from That Day She’ll Proclaim Her Chronicles (Burning Eye Books, 2021), © Muneera Pilgrim 2021, used by permission of the author.