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Self-Portrait as Nation-State

for a language i choose my grandmother’s
laugh      always arriving a beat too late
a line stretched thin across the ocean & for
traditions i borrow a custom from budrus
of naming olive trees after mothers &
for countrymen i take the unclaimed contents
of my own body     crooked heart their ruler
hair the plumes of smoke clinging to a
recent ruin     & in the anthem all the children
born far away turn homeward     & chant    it’s me it’s me i’m yours


{TO READ MORE POEMS FROM Safia Elhillo, PLEASE PURCHASE ISSUE 43 (The African Literary Hustle).}