Learning to Pray
My father moved patiently
cupping his hands beneath his chin,
kneeling on a janamaz
then pressing his forehead to a circle
of Karbala clay. Occasionally
he’d glance over at my clumsy mirroring,
my too-big Packers t-shirt
and pebble-red shorts,
and smile a little, despite himself.
Bending there with his whole form
marbled in light, he looked like
a photograph of a famous ghost.
I ached to be so beautiful.
I hardly knew anything yet —
not the boiling point of water
or the capital of Iran,
not the five pillars of Islam
or the Verse of the Sword —
I knew only that I wanted
to be like him,
that twilit stripe of father
mesmerizing as the bluewhite Iznik tile
hanging in our kitchen, worshipped
as the long faultless tongue of God.
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