“Eve’s Summons” and “Maryam’s Labor”

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Eve’s Summons

by Mohja Kahf

It’s my nine hundred and ninety-ninth, Eve says.
Now, Sarah, I don’t care what you think of Hagar—
you’d better come to my birthday party.
And Hagar, no matter what she did to you—
you’d better be there too.
Both of you stop your fucking whining.
Bring my grandkids. All.

Maryam’s Labor

by Mohja Kahf

Maryam is giving birth
Her face is sweaty like a laborer,
like a marathon runner
God is her Doula massaging
the small of her back with a tennis ball
Everyone else has left her
“Honey, you can do this,” She says,
“You and your body know how”
Maryam understands this pain
that comes in waves like the ocean,
rises, rises, then releases her
She does not lie down she stands up
She is not ill from what she bears she is powerful
She is not patient she is purposeful
She is not second she is Self
She is Soul and Body she is One
She surfs the pain she swims the crest
She lives in it she flows with it
She has been training for it
She doesn’t beg the pain to go away
It is her guide in the desert not her enemy
It is her voice in the wilderness
calling “Here! Now! Truth! Life! Be!”
Maryam gets the double vision of women
in labor seeing things as they are
and as they more deeply can be
Everything gains epic dimensions, opens
Panting, fully dilated, mantra chanting,
pelvic rocking, crowning,
Maryam takes what she needs
from the river, the tree
She is Here Now Truth Life,
Be and It Is—Maryam’s face
is flush with victory


Mohja Kahf
Mohja Kahf is the author of The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, E-Mails from Scheherazad, Hagar Poems, and Western Representations of the Muslim Woman. She is a professor at the University of Arkansas, and since 2011 has been a member of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement. Photograph by Wendi LaFey. www.wendilafey.com.


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