I Keep God Under My Bed
by Threa Almontaser
beneath wrinkled prayer rugs, pile of headscarves.
I pull Him out at dawn, place Him back
‘till nightfall. At school, I sit on rusted bleachers,
watch gold crosses on pale throats—
little pieces of God gleaming between collarbones.
Girls make a circle beneath the swirly slide,
point a star from their foreheads, across shoulders
with slipping bra straps, peeled Lisa Frank tattoos,
holding Hubba Bubba Max and God
under their tongues. Sometimes I join,
memorize their Hail Mary and Blessed Art Thou,
a tizzy thrill from smuggling into their holy enclave,
wondering if He can hear the outsider
in my voice, my Muslim soul retreated under the slide
with the chewing gum. I think my parents
aren’t my real parents. I think there’s been
a terrible mix-up. I gust past mosques like a vegan
by a butcher. At home, my tongue trips
over the Qur’an. I make mistakes: end with Amen
instead of Ameen, say a section of Our father
in the middle of a Bismillah before meals,
Muhammad and Jesus competing for my prayers,
unsure when to press my palms together
and when to hold them to my chest.
I have a dream where both boys stand before me,
arms outstretched, white robes ribboning.
They make cooing sounds, clap their hands,
urge, Come to me, come to me over each other.
I look down, find a diaper, rolls of baby fat,
left with the decision of who to take my fledgling steps
towards. I wake at dusk, peek beneath
the bedspring in search of two Gods, meet eyes
with one first, the darkness so thick it burns.
Threa Almontaser is a Yemeni-American writer, translator, and multimedia artist from New York City. A first-generation college student, she is a MFA graduate from North Carolina State University and the recipient of scholarships from the Tin House Writers' Workshop, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, The Kerouac House in Orlando, among others. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets, her work is published in or forthcoming from The Offing, Nimrod International Journal, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She currently teaches English to immigrants and refugees in Raleigh. For more, please visit threawrites.com.