On the plane I whisper the travel prayer more softly
I mouth the words but keep the breath carefully
concealed in my throat, worried I don’t have a permit
for these verses in international airspace.
The prayer is filled with soft sounds
Ash-ha-du a tender hush, unlike
the sharp hiss of testify. And the mess
of vowels la ilaa ha illaa wants breath
it is difficult to keep this all inside.
It is difficult to pray, and even more
difficult to marvel or to rage.
Allah was my go-to word
for all the moments of the day
(close your eyes and savor here)
Allaaaaah can you believe the fragrance of this gardenia?
the colors of this sunset? How is it your lips
are still as sweet as the first time?
and the transgressions
(clench your fists and tremble here)
Please help me survive this
Please help me believe this will end
Please help me trust there is some power
greater than all this suffering.