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Dec 2015
I speak in two tongues and they both hiss at each other like snakes.
Tripping over my own words as my mouth becomes a battle ground.
I stand on the side-lines looking in. Waiting for the opportunity to announce my presence.
A foreigner in my motherland and a foreigner in a sea of white faces,
And I do not fit the colour scheme.

I’m a stranger, an alien, something to be prodded and poked at and made to squirm.
A minority not to be distinguished from a sea of cloth draped women.
An epitome of the strange lands of deserts and spice.
And hung above my head is a dark cloud of stereotypes and misconceptions.

The Western woman wants to fight for the freedom of the daughters of Eve,
Not understanding that her view of liberation tastes different on my tongue.
So I’m left helpless to the hot iron lens of the media, examining me like a specimen on a petri dish.

My identity, a crumbling church still worthy of all the worship.
I memorized my history books then forgot all the verses.
I grew up haunted by my ancestor’s curses.
I’ve shed so many layers of my skin attempting to fit in, now I no longer recognize myself.
I gaze into the mirror and my reflection looks away, too afraid to make eye contact with a stranger.

I am a human split in two by borders that require passports and stamps of approval.
One half of my bleeds in red, white and blue, and the other the ashes of a burning nation.
I soak up every atom in my body with a culture that isn’t mine,
And speak words that feel heavy on my mother’s broken tongue.

Embedded in the arms of parents who are too afraid to let me go, because the world is cruel to women who don’t belong.
I am like glass that has been shattered into a million pieces, and then painstakingly put back together again.
Delicate to the touch, quivering beneath broken knuckles and clenched fists.

In the back of my mind lie vague recollections of the hot marble floors of a childhood home,
Of crevices etched into unfamiliar smiling faces,
And a country which my roots have been uplifted from.

I am a kaleidoscope. A kaleidoscope of clashing colours but you, you only view me in black and shades of grey.
I question how to belong without jumping into a skin suit that’s too baggy at the sleeves, because one size does not fit all.
I don’t want to lose my morals, values and system of beliefs.
A whirlwind of obstacles surrounding me, closing in on all sides…it’s hard to breathe.

But even after multiple blows I’m still holding onto this thread of hope…and pulling.
Unravelling what’s beneath.
And when I raise my firm hands to the sky I pray,
That my wandering soul finds a place to call home one day.
www.mypoeticcatharsis.wordpress.com
Asma Shatwan
Written by
Asma Shatwan  Manchester
(Manchester)   
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