Aisha Sharif received her MFA in poetry from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her work has appeared in Muslim Wakeup!, Touchstone Literary Journal, Poemmemoirstory, Callaloo, and is forthcoming in Mythium. She currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
A Hijab of My Own
Every Friday, I wrestle with it—
my kinky hair,
the need to make it slick like Arab girls’.
Hijab never glides over puffs and twists.
To enter their mosque, I must pin the ends
below my chin, pretend
the silk doesn’t snag, and my ears don’t burn,
skin rubbed red. In their mosque,
women sit behind a lace curtain,
drape hijab over their heads and chests.
These women are from everywhere except here.
An Arab asks where my parents were born.
I must be from somewhere too. Maybe Somalia.
No, America, I reply.
She can’t understand. She asks my name.
I say I-sha, never I-e-sha.
I am what is easy for them.
I-sha....the Prophet’s wife...
They bless my name, kiss me
on each cheek, offer Salaams. I itch
to push back the fabric, wrap it like Badu,
cloth spiraled around black hair
spreading up and out–
my hijab’s natural cushion.