at the british museum, mawadah points at a stolen artifact

By | 1 June 2022

People did not even need to travel to the Middle East, as exhibitions and art dealers brought
the Middle East to them.
—The British Museum

down the street mawadah tells me she misses egypt but sometimes egypt is brought to her
in berlin she says i saw the bust of nefertiti & waved at her from afar
because there were borders separating us because touching her face
would only bring her home & i guess they don’t want that
summer says they were never this careful with our bodies

an orientalist calls me a bedouin chasing a fool’s paradise
& maybe i am a fool the soles of my all stars are rubbed raw
from all the chasing & chasing & chasing
but hey at least i know what my tombstone looks like

in new york i think of edward saïd when fatima goes to class in her
periwinkle coat & she tells me she feels arab everywhere
so i remember him saying he never liked going to museums that much
(i also know what it feels to burn under the limelight)
instead i tell her it’s okay you just crossed an ocean

we’re at the british museum & mawadah points at a stolen artifact
& jokes about bringing it back home but listen what if we actually do
what if this dissolves the border & all our wounds
what if our dead are no longer dead what if it wipes the canvas anew

zein says to figure a border i must first start with the body
but i’m tired from all the reading & stretching & rubbing my shoes loose
trying to uproot/unmap my skeleton from the earth
if the body is buried elsewhere what is home
if nothing remains of it what is home
stuck outside its geography the same way they stole the moon

at the biennale mama comes eye-to-eye with some
sculptures from outside her stance splintered & hung dry
she asks if this is colonization & i say yes
i don’t bother touching their faces at all

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