Tala (Ode to the Girl Palm)
When I ate the fruit of the date palm delivered fresh
to me from an oasis in the empty quarter, admired
the gilt-twined bag the fruit lay in, & hesitated to disturb
this wonder of Arab irrigation, fruit bat pollination, & desert patience,
I knew why fathers send their daughters to the West
with kilos of dates: sukkary, khudry, segai, heavily wrapped
& suspicious in luggage; the care in the fruit meant to last us in places
where trees drop all their leaves & appear dead to the eye.
I eyed my gift, portioned myself one to eat on a balcony casting a cool
shadow over sand speckled with blood & feathers from a wild falcon kill,
knew I could have sent that falcon into the sky to feed, knew
that to the East, in the oasis, young girl-palms were sheltering,
growing, while men in white bathed & dressed them,
named them, then let the desert raise them.
The Fairlies selection features a reprint poem or story written by a woman of color or non-binary writer of color and published at least one year ago in a print-only publication. "Tala (Ode to the Girl Palm)" originally appeared in Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose, 2019.
Majda Gama is a Beirut born, Saudi-American poet based in the Washington DC area where she has roots as a DJ and activist. Her poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Cordite, The Fairy Tale Review, Hunger Mountain, Nimrod, The Normal School, RHINO, Slice, Wildness, and is forthcoming from the Hobb anthology edited by Hala Alyan and Zeina Hashem Beck. Gama is a 2017 and 2019 Best of the Net nominee, a runner up in the 2019 RHINO Founder’s Prize, a 2020 New Issues Poetry Prize finalist, a 2017 Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry finalist, and recently served as a poetry editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal.
Art: Del Sol Buffalo by Cierra Rowe