What Prayer Rugs Collect

by Seif Eldeine

Take comfort in the prayer rug,
She is the kevlar vest.

She is the silence between bombs
In the night,
Where the zephyr
Comes on the mountaintop
Your god revealed the commandments.

She knew your ancestors
When steel was swords.

Roll her with her hands:
With 5 prayers
Rolled on the tip of her tongue.

Tuck her in a safe place,
For wherever you tuck her
Is safe, and the world’s axis
Is what turns with her prayers.

It’s in the street she shall hear
The dying whispers of men.

Do you keep forgetting your refuge?
Then tie her threads
Like a taqiyah
To place on your head.

When your mouth dries with dirges
In graveyards you cannot visit,
Know the dead
Will sing you their prayers for you.

Then you can bow your head,
Then you can place it on your prayer rug,
Then you can collect the dust and dead skin
Of those who came before you.

Seif Eldeine is an Arab-American poet living outside Worcester, Massachusetts, with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Tufts University. He is currently working on a book on the Syrian Revolution. He has work published in Star 82 Review, Vayavya and Typehouse Literary Magazine.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru