Majdah Talal Gama

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I

Am I this name? One of the ninety-nine, the uncommon feminine of Majid: the Glorious.

Ma-ji-dah: you taught me my name in loops and spirals; over and over, I wrote then accented the Arabic letters that end in silence.

We went to the maktaba to buy new pens, any and all that I desired; my name grew in colors to contain yours: my middle and last.

At family gatherings I sat by your knee and let the question sweep over me: “Talal, can she write her name in Arabic?”

I respond to my name.

II

I return to Jeddah. Before I land I wrap myself in black and fill out the page that asks for my
name.

My hand moves slowly, from right to left: an awkward series of dashes and angles. My veil
is wound and looped into the latest style.

The long line of my abaya follows me down airplane steps, the heat burns intrinsically, the way that home does. My family awaits my Arabic.

All that I am is already written, familiar as the palm of my hand.

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