By Sara Bawany

The finest strand of dark green yarn
masquerades itself an accessory
wispy and frayed
demanding to be pulled from the edge
of your brand new prayer rug.

Its soft velvety fabric is still tightly creased
edges upturned at the ready
beckoning your knees to surrender upon it.
But the outlying green yarn remains.

You spread the rug across the ground
stand at the ready with hands
by your neatly trimmed beard.
Allahu Akbar and you bow
your recitation of holy verses
echoing off the walls.

But the green yarn waves
like a flag of surrender
from the corner of your eye
and you grow irritated at last.

You tug at it and it unfurls and unravels.
You keep pulling feverishly, desperately
and before long the rug is nothing
but a heap of shredded mediocre yarn —
an utter mess of a green facade.

What if this didn’t happen?
None of it.

The mess of frayed yarn
politely weaves itself back together
to construct a dark green prayer rug.

The anger pours back inside you.
The crisp rug begs for attention
but instead you make perfect folds
corner to corner embracing
put it back in its plastic bag and zip it up.

You do not perform wudhu.
The sins pour back into you
with each drop of water the faucet guzzles.
Your heels walk backwards out of the bathroom.
You are not in need of yet another ritual ablution.
The front of your thobe is not wet and stiff
with the impurity you frantically seek to wash away.

The angel on your left does not upturn
its inkwell in horror.
You never slide your hand beneath the table.
It never makes it past the thighs
under the folds of the child’s dress.
The same hand that points to the Qur’an verse
she reads aloud to you
stiff as a board —
if this is part
of her

Headshot of Sara Bawany

Sara Bawany is a clinical social worker and third-year MFA Poetry student at Texas State University. She published (w)holehearted: a collection of poetry and prose in 2018, and her second book, Quarter Life Crisis (FlowerSong Press), was published in October 2023. She is the Managing Editor at Porter House Review and serves as a mentor and instructor at House of Amal, a writing institution for Muslim youth.

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