Summer Farah is a poet and editor who currently acts as the outreach coordinator for the Radius of Arab American Writers. In 2021, she served as the poetry editor for the FIYAH LIT Palestine Solidarity issue. Read her work at summerfarah.com
OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH
I think me & everyone I love could run a tight ship.
I’ve decided to stop hoping for continents
to fold over & instead take to sea, where we
erase the borders ourselves. I think everyone
I love would be happier in this lawless place.
No more I wish things could be different
whispered at night, no more tear-stained
embraces brought about by back pain & 9to5s,
no more if only, if only, if only.
Instead, we wanted different & we’ve decide to make it so.
Instead, we know what we’ve always deserved.
An alternate universe in which we map our charts ourselves,
know the stars because we must.
Oh, I will never forget this–
unadulterated joy facilitated by touches of silk &
intimate glances that no one can
deny, no one even tries. I think me & everyone
I love deserve nothing but this: an ocean
& the freedom to know all it offers.
FOR LORELAI GILMORE, CECE PAREKH, & ALL THE GIRLS WHO TAKE TO THE WILDERNESS
There are girls on TV who are sad
& we don’t know why. There are girls
on TV who are sad & we don’t know
why & everyone thinks that’s a plothole.
Isn’t it obvious? I shout at my tvrecappodcasts,
She’s depressed! It’s grief! Sometimes you feel
so insane months after a heartbreak & still
don’t really know why
I’d like to climb a mountain
I’d like to climb a mountain but
I can barely name the one I grew up
twenty minutes away from
Sometimes you feel so insane for months
& still don’t really know why
My father says there’s a mountain
named for our family. I can’t find it
on a map.
I don’t know whether to blame
colonialism or oral history or myself
There are girls on TV who try
to climb a mountain.
I wish I could do that, too
When I’m sad I get high & read
poems until the words float off the page
When I’m sad I eat ice cream
in bed & feel like I need to brush
my teeth but am too tired to get up
Mitski sings my body’s made of crushed little stars
& I’m not doing anything
There’s a little voice in my head saying,
get up! Get up! Get up! Do Wild, or
something, forgodssake, anything at all
Girls would literally rather hike a 2,650 mile trail than go to therapy.
Girls would literally rather write
a hundred little poems using ableist & misogynstic
terms that dismiss her mental health needs
than go to therapy
Girls go to therapy & the therapist says things like
if you’ve forgotten about it,
maybe it’s just because you didn’t want to do it
Girls forget to make follow-up visits for their HPV vaccines
& get terrified of sex
Girls forget to get their inhaler refilled
& only remember when they have an asthma attack during it
Girls must not care about their capacity to breathe
& not get cancer if they forget
to make their silly little doctors appointments
I used to think
I could be soooo good at my job if I wasn’t so mentally ill
Everything is different now.
I used to walk around the lake at noon
instead of eat my lunch, dream of a jogger
bumping me into the dirtytoxicwater.
Mitski sings I always knew the world moves on
I just didn’t know it would go without me
while ducks nip at my shoes.
I haven’t seen the lake in years.
Now I leave my desk early
& do a lap in the sun.
I close my eyes. I pretend I am a plant & the warmth is all I need
no rent no power companies
no shoddy landlords
who follow your roommate home
Dream of the girls on TV who run to the wilderness
when their normal lives are too much
I used to think I could be soooo good
if I wasn’t so mentally ill
It’s different now,
it’s different it’s different it’s different
I’ve always wondered
what it would feel like
to be so tired I couldn’t move
but know exactly why
I no longer dream of labor.
I no longer dream at all.