Summer Farah

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 

Photograph by Naihan Nath

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.