She was covered in black,
a whirling, twirling abbaya*.
Her love meshed into you, crimson-blood drops on your lips,
Only when she touched you the lights went on,
the darkness of her cloak was a death sentence.
Careful, don’t exoticize, don’t eroticize, don’t Orientalize.
The accelerando of her whispers under the moonlight
The adrenaline of bodies not meeting, the gypsy of the heart.
*Abbaya: a full-length, sleeveless outer garment worn by some Muslim women.
Dr Shahd Alshammari teaches literature to undergraduates. Her first collection of short stories ‘Notes on the Flesh’ deals with love and disability in a Middle Eastern setting.