Eight Angels


A poem about my time in Jordan, where I learned a teensy bit of Arabic, a smattering of history, some great recipes, and a great deal about hospitality, generousity, and honor. This little girls, and one other named "Islama" (she deserves a poem of her own) were my first teachers in Jordan, but not my last.

There is a line of history in mine
That does not grieve me or make me proud—
Information that I cannot carry,
Lengthy contracts that I will not sign.
Do not carve my name anywhere

In the hills of Jordan I sat resting
Exchanging names with eight little girls.
“Gazelle,”  “Light,” “Good Tidings,” “Sweet Water”
Then mine, just “Stubborn”—a sad vesting. 
Do not carve my name anywhere

Incredulous they inferred old pain.
Sorrowful silence on the long stair;
Then Huma, “the bird who brings joy”
Smiled, “We will name you again”
Do not carve my name anywhere

Looking beyond salt, sweat and sunburn
Noor leaned in “Call her for beauty, yes?”
They all nodded, thinking hard, ready
To bestow a gift I did not earn
Do not carve my name anywhere.

Many names suggested and cast out—
Not good enough to mark my fate. That night
Eight smallish Irbid Angels named me
“Hooriya,” so this gift came about:
A name I can carve anywhere.

The Way It's Done

Nadeshda -- A Found Poem