I'm uploading some old writing, just to get started. This is a an imagined Muslim-Western dialog, inspired by a conversation with a Muslim friend about inter-cultural marriage.
I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I thought it was a good example of my work so far, and I wanted to get feedback. Please let me know if you find it problematic and we can talk.

I say
“I wish you knew how beautiful you are.”
She says
“It doesn’t matter if I’m beautiful.”
I say
“I wish I could show you that you were worthy of respect.”
(I wish you could see yourself as I love you, I think.  As God loves you.)
She says
“This is how I respect myself.”  

It’s a story, you see, and she sees the metaphor.
I see the plot.
She sees the beauty – beyond,
She sees the symbol.  
But it breaks my heart to see such a beautiful, powerful woman
Covering herself
In so many ways.  
Her rueful smile --
She says “I study literature.”  
Sometimes the point is all you have.

I say “you shouldn’t have to choose.”
That you can have it all
Love it all, your family, your career – and God.  
Your power is important.  (Nontrivial, I say, because I don’t study literature.)
“My love,” she replies, “Family is also nontrivial.”  

This fight is a constant whisper
The low tones of love and disagreement as my hand,
Brushing against her cheek,
Breaks all the rules.  

(I remember her father,
a good doctor but a weak Muslim,
and her mother, who chose to leave a failing marriage rather than save her children.

I remember her at 13,
All big eyes and long limbed and silent,
Swearing that she could never do it.  )

(The Hijab frustrates me not just because it represents the stripping away of power  
- And not just because it represents the patriarchy -
but because it demonstrates all the ways that we have failed.  
Her right to this piece of cloth
Is unobjectionable, but I’m unconvinced
That it’s not, for her, a mixture of duty, shame and defiance.
Until we can value our women, we can’t be fully human.)

The missteps I make
I apologize
She says “I want our children
To have a real family.”
And I know she means “As I didn’t”
I want to say “But I want our children -
All of our children -
To know that women can be powerful.
That you don’t have to chose.
That even if nothing in this life comes without strings,
There is dignity and worth in us all.”  

But she responds, without my speaking,
That our mothers didn’t work, and we still believed women could be powerful.
That life isn’t just about political convictions.
That she made choices, and one of them was this.
(And that maybe this is how she shows her feminisim.)

I disagree, and I think you’re beautiful
And terrified.
And there’s no way to make you understand that without you
Nothing is the same.


The End

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