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Last sync:2023-03-09 06:45
Leila Chatti reads her poem "Fasting in Tunis".


POEM: Fasting in Tunis
BOOK: Tunsiya/Amrikiya
AUTHOR: Leila Chatti
PUBLISHER: Bull City Press

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Hi I am Leila Chatti and I'm gonna be reading "Fasting in Tunis".

I chose this poem because it was one of the earliest poems I wrote where I felt very excited. I wrote it at Dorianne Laux's house on a prompt that she gave me and it's one of my favorite dearest poems.

Fasting in Tunis

Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.  -Robert Hass

My God taught me hunger
is a gift, it sweetens
the meal.  All day, I have gone without
because I know at the end I will
eat and be satisfied.  In this way,
my desire is bearable.

I endure this day
as I have endured years of days
without the whole of your affection.
Your desire is one capable of rest.
Mine keeps its eyes open, stalks
through heat that quivers,
waits to be fed.

The sun burns a hole through
the sky and I am patient.
The ocean eats and eats
at the sand and still hungers.
I watch its wide blue tongue, knowing
you are on the other side.  

What is greater: the distance between
these bodies, or their need?  

Noon gapes, a vacant maw--
there is long to go 
until the moon is served, white as a plate
You are far and still sleeping;
the morning has not yet slunk into your bed,
its dreams so vast and solitary.

Once, long ago, 
I touched you,
and I will touch you again--
your mouth a song
I remember, your mouth
a sugar I drink.