Navid Sinaki: In My Mother’s Full Veil

i always thought it strange
when my mother would pray in a full veil
and my father in his briefs.

he was always a few steps ahead
cause it was implemented for her to be behind,
even though my dad scratched his pits between surahs.

thus, home alone as a boy
i wanted to pray as a woman
in my mother’s full veil

that she kept hidden to preserve the perfume:
jasmines from her mother,
smoke from her grandma’s cigarette.

she never knew that weekly
i’d light marlboros aside a fan
to keep the diorama close.

in a trunk aside her lucille ball commemorative plates,
i’d unfold the veil and wrap myself in antiquity, ours.

but after the bows, after the words in arabic
that i memorized like a bird call
whose meaning i’d never get, a slight panic.

what if i couldn’t find the phantom crease?
so particular, my mother. if i didn’t fold the veil
the exact same way, she would be able to tell

before even opening the chest,
before opening the door to the room,
before folding it herself the time before last.

but the chador and i had an agreement.
if i moved the fabric slowly enough,
magnetized by memory, it knew how to fold itself.

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