Dark Light

I as in Iraq and Immigrating

by Yuan Changming

“I” as in Iraq

To begin with
The hieroglyphical origin of
My identity was simply nothing
But a common reed
Bowing its head to the rising sun
On the barren bank of the Nile

Slim, tall, hollow-hearted
Standing against tropical heat
Until one day “I” was used
As a human symbol, an open vowel
Referring to the speaker
And since then I have become
One of the most frequently spelt letters
In the linguistic order of the day
Always capitalized
To embody my dignity
Though I am nothing
But a common reed
That could have been made into a flute.


Walking around
around the corner of a back lane
I used to carry my Iraqi identity
as carefully as if it were a big piece
of glass, through which I could see
others or myself, only if I chose
to do so, but on a hasty afternoon
I tripped down, and
smashed it into hundreds of
small and sharp pieces; since then
my shredded selfhood has become a big
public nuisance, a traffic hazard
as it glistens glaringly under the sun, cutting
tires or human feet, from time to time.


All artwork is courtesy of Rana Ashraf.

Related Posts


Swirls of fiery orange beautified the sky as a blazing summer sun slowly descended. Like a graceful ballerina…

After Genesis 22

One bloody hand clasped a knife and the other dragged a goat. The blood trickled to meet the crest…