When the Orders Came
"[We are] calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
—Trump’s administrative team, December 7, 2015
they shipped us to the sanctuary camps
& we forgot our other countries.
like good schoolchildren we sung
the anthem loud, so loud
until we could hear nothing else.
not the birds delighting
over their young, or the dogs’ snarl
at our feet, or him on the news
hourly, growling. this is the cost
of looking the other way
when they come for us:
I build safety inside you
& wake in cuffs.
I’m all mouth. every morning
I whisper my country my country my country
& my hands stay empty.
what is land but land? a camp
but a camp? sanctuary
but another grave? I am an architect.
I permission everything
into something new.
I build & build
& someone takes it away.
From If They Come For Us: Poems (One World/ Random House, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Fatimah Asghar. Used with the permission of the poet.