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Intermediate Arabic

Mon May 9th, 2016

Intermediate Arabic

After Safia Elhillo


the arabic word for weeping:  بكاء /bika/

the arabic word for staying:  بقاء /biqa/

the only difference is how you hold

the sharpness in your throat


هاجرت /haajartu/  to say “I emigrated”

هجرت /hajartu/  “I turned my back; I fled”

the only difference is the time you took

to linger in the open vowel


the arabic word for wishing:  رغبة /rughba/

the longing for your native land: غربة /ghurba/

close enough to be confused

when garbled by waves of ocean-grief


الرَّب /al-rab/: the one and only god  الربيع /al-rabiya/: the spring

العربية /al-arabiya/: arabic naming itself, the sound of it holy and green


Michaela Coplen is a sophomore at Vassar College where she is editor of the Vassar Review, Vassar's literary magazine. Copyright Michaela Coplen.