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In June, days after the Supreme Court lifted legal blocks on President Trump’s Muslim Ban save those with “bona fide relationships” to the United States, we asked writers to imagine creative openings and counter narratives as to what a bona fide relationship might be. Trump’s latest iteration of the travel ban was stopped by two federal judges last month. We are publishing a series of stories and poems on The Margins that create new narratives and futures in response to the Muslim Ban. The following poem is the latest in our series. Read more and follow along here.



All Over the Place


A week before I graduate, I round up all my femme clothes
and stuff them in the Savers plastic bag
I’d gotten them in. I hand the bag over
to my best friend, ask them to keep it
safe, like someone could steal
my old skirts. And I know it’s silly
to cry over dusty fabric; cheap clothing
I can essentially buy anywhere. Except
I can’t. I complained to my mother
that I couldn’t wait to go back
home, and I knew a part of me
was lying; afraid to say goodbye
to the white spaces that kept my body
safe” – a part of me knows
the rest of me is “safer” here,
and that’s the part
I hate, but can’t live
without. I left
my gender in America. In a week,
I will land back
in my mother’s land and relearn
to call it my own. In a week,
I will remember my gender
is not a plastic bag
in Manhattan. I will pick up
a map of Cairo, start finding
a new home for myself.

The Bona Fide Relationships Portfolio was published with support from the David Rockefeller Fund and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.


Hazem Fahmy is a poet and critic from Cairo. He is an Honors graduate of Wesleyan University’s College of Letters where he studied literature, philosophy, history and film. His debut chapbook, "Red//Jild//Prayer" won the 2017 Diode Editions Contest and is forthcoming in 2018. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming in Apogee, HEArt, Mizna, and The Offing. His performances have been featured on Button Poetry and Write About Now. He is a reader for the Shade Journal, a poetry editor for Voicemail Poems, and a contributing writer to Film Inquiry. In his spare time, Hazem writes about the Middle East and tries to come up with creative ways to mock Classicism. He makes videos occasionally.

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