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I know you know how to shame into obedience the long chain tethering lawnmower to fence. And in your garden are no chrysanthemums, no hem of lace from the headscarf I loose for him at my choosing. Around my throat still twines a thin line from when, in another life, I was guillotined. I know you know how to slap a child across the face with a sandal. Forgive me. I love when he tells me to be the water you siphon into the roots of your trees. In that life, I was your enemy and silverleaf. In this one, the child you struck was me.
"'I write to you across what separates us,' wrote Czesław Miłosz in 'To Robert Lowell,' a poem that is an apology as much as it is an acknowledgment of how elusive understanding can be when we are deeply entrenched inside our own experiences. I was moved by both the vulnerability and irony inherent in Miłosz's poem, which influenced the writing of 'Apology from a Muslim Orphan.'" —Tarfia Faizullah
Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014). She teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Detroit.
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