Asiya Wadud

Calais, onward

empire wrought boundless
mollusked isle full light
moored light come light
a sepulcher if not
mark a journey supplicate
pray mohammed
and fatima
pray amira
and insh’allah
a litany
of all the names
of all the men
the women. all
our progeny
every chaos every need
our best maps
what mattered what became
a book of prayers
saved for daylight
and moonlight
and damned light
to retrieve a body
all. these days
we remembered
to make it, to mourn
to mark a journey
a white shrift unsullied
mash’allah my god
can deliver my god
saves face my god
solemn hunter my god
a privation my god
in the light call it, pilgrimage
call it crystalline, call it
empire call it
salt honed call it
calais onward


most the year there are two cats we have a house
there are three bedrooms no furniture just brown carpet
you sink featherweight cats chase a noon sun freshkills
Fibonacci sunflowers honeybees’ catacombs

most the year there are two cats, funereal
limitless Jamilas, kittens’ names
I’ll never know, just the stolid matriarch
of all Jamilas. On Labor Day 1991 two cats
birthed fifteen kitten kin combined, all survived. I dipped their
silken caully heads into my mouth and transmute a Eucharistic
spes unica, spes unica, spes unica succumb, take their
mews into my mouth, smother comfort their new world calls

the kittens’ slat eyes open, we send them out, each time
one Jamila passes another forms from the ash
Jamila as moored light Jamila as metronome Jamila ancient
gaped childhood wild, Jamila as arbiter and mother
quell a doomiest hapless truth as the others retreat
restless though assured: from this another comes

Asiya Wadud

Asiya Wadud is the author of Crosslight for Youngbird (Nightboat Books, 2018) day pulls down the sky… a filament in gold leaf, written collaboratively with Okwui Okpokwasili (Belladonna/ Danspace, 2019), Syncope (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019) and the forthcoming No Knowledge Is Complete Until It Passes Through My Body. A member of the Belladonna Collaborative, her work has been supported by the Foundation Jan Michalski, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Danspace Project, Dickinson House, Mount Tremper Arts, and the New York Public Library, among others. Asiya is a 2019–2020 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Artist-in-Residence and also currently a writer-in-residence at Danspace Project. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.