Threa Almontaser

ABLUTION WITH ZEM ZEM WATER

When Ibrahim abandoned Hajar with her baby
in the desert, (this being the will of God,)

Hajar circled that sandy oven seven times,
the baby crying from thirst. Angel Jibreel heard, hit

the ground with his wing, and fresh water
sprouted there. On your nightstand, glass jar

of Zem Zem water straight from the holy land.
Your Tinder lover takes a sip, lets liquid blessings

dribble out his mouth, trail your body. Muslims believe
it nourishes the soul. This white boy doesn’t know

he swallowed miracle water, clear purity. He covers
your crotch, throat, face with it, whispers your long

full name, stresses the wrong syllable, then falls asleep
in your arms. Morning, you sweep pubic hairs

from the covers, smooth his ghost print in the sheets,
pay attention to his shaved stubble quivering

leftover angelic water — compass needles leading you
to him. Follow their direction to the end of the pier

like a black and white photo where a pod of dolphin
squeal at a ship of men dipping farther into the blue,

where women wave white kerchiefs and weep.
And you, dry-eyed, wondering how the will of God

works, thirsty as Hajar, almost cry out just to be heard
by some divine beast who wraps you in big wings, brings you water.


Threa Almontaser is an Arab-American writer from New York City. She is a MFA candidate in creative writing at North Carolina State University and the recipient of scholarships from Tin House, Winter Tangerine, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and others. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets, she is winner of the 2018 Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize, the 2017 Unsilenced Grant for Muslim American Women Writers, as well as the 9th annual Nazim Hikmet poetry competition. Her work is published or forthcoming in Nimrod, Tinderbox Journal, Baltimore Review, Track//Four, Kakalak, Gravel, Day One, and elsewhere. She currently teaches English to immigrants and refugees in Raleigh.