House of Abundance Poetry’s four-year anniversary event fell in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In absence of the physical gathering of this mighty community, ALL ARTS partnered with House of Abundance Poetry (HOA) and introduced an ongoing series with a single-word prompt for each writer: quarantine.
Daad Sharfi is a Sudanese-American poet and immigrant rights advocate raised between Muscat and Chicago. Her work has been featured in “20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry,” the 2019 NYC Poetry Festival and the inaugural issue of Sawti magazine. Sharfi serendipitously stumbled upon House of Abundance a year and a half ago, only two months after moving to New York. While fairly new to the city, she found an anchor in HOA. For Daad, the collective holds a very special place in her heart as a constant source of joy, compassion and radical vulnerability.
Here is her quarantine poem submission, “ANTHEM.”
“ANTHEM,” by Daad Sharfi
Since before I was old enough to go anywhere interesting, mama would always say: when we leave our homes, we don’t know if we’ll ever come back so you better purify your heart at the door & I imagine the door is as much a portal to the coast as it is any number of gaping mouths that would (gladly) take my growing body as their own. I want to say, do not strangle my name with your loveless language. I mean to say, it hurts to have a body & know it is not entirely your own. Before I ever had a body, I had a soul. A soul, so exquisitely mine. The other night, I held a mirror up to my chest. I examined my heart, smudged & scattered with shades of dark: names I haven’t learned yet. I don’t recall where they come from, what version of my rage made them blossom into a constellation with nowhere to go. I was taught to detach from that which is worldly but I have trouble following instructions. I let my body walk out the door, change out of its skin, fall into the unrestrained yawn of a country that has grown bored with its living. I can hear my body talk itself out of itself. I know the sound of my own voice, don’t ask me to listen closer. I am so tired, I want to go back home. Inward, past the door itself. I want the door closed, its mouth shut. I don’t know the way back by heart, only by muscle memory & ache. Before I ever had a body, I had a soul & after you take my body, I still keep this soul my song my prayer, its patience my soft my name my beloved my maker my core our magnitude my seed its magic, our spell my song sung in slang my song called out in the language of my people’s love for me my soul my song my satin song my own
Find a full schedule of poems, to be released weekly in partnership with House of Abundance, here. For more information, future events, and general updates from the community, follow House of Abundance on Instagram at @abundancehouseof.