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Tala (ode to the Girl-Palm) by Majda Gama

Tala (ode to the Girl-Palm)

by Majda Gama

published in Nimrod, Spring/Summer 2019, Volume 62, Number 2

Voices of the Middle East and North Africa


When I ate the fruit of the date palm delivered fresh

to me from an oasis in the empty quarter, admired


the gilt-twined bag the fruit lay in, & hesitated to disturb

this wonder of Arab irrigation, fruit-bat pollination, & desert patience,


I knew why fathers send their daughters to the West

with kilos of dates: sukkary, khudry, segai, heavily wrapped


& suspicious in luggage; the care in the fruit meant to last us in places

where trees drop all their leaves & appear dead to the eye.


I eyed my gift, portioned myself one to eat on a balcony casting a cool

shadow over sand speckled with blood & feathers from a wild falcon kill,


knew I could have sent that falcon into the sky to feed, knew

that to the East, in the oasis, young girl-palms were sheltering,


growing, while men in white bathed & dressed them,

named them, then let the desert raise them.




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