TESTIMONY

Leila Chatti

There is a god, and there is no god but Him.

He has many names and answers to none.

On the Day of Judgment I will be called by my name and by the name of my father.

My name the dark I was forged in.

Dark which rehearses its return while I sleep.

Indeed, one day I will return to God, as it is to Him that I belong.

Indeed, this was part of the Message and the Message was received.

I do not speak for God and He does not speak to me.

This an (arrangement/estrangement).

When asked my religion I answer surrender.

I pray with my head to the floor, with my hands where He can see them, with both eyes
          closed.

All this for Paradise, which lies at the feet of mothers.

Beneath my feet the temporal earth.

Which darkens where I stand.

Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of the chapbooks Ebb (Akashic Books, 2018) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Tin House Workshop, The Frost Place, and the Key West Literary Seminar, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she is the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. Her poems have received awards from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and the Academy of American Poets. She is the Consulting Poetry Editor for the Raleigh Review and her work appears in Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere.