I notice the light differently

the morning brightness, warm, the afternoon

stark, and as the light lessens,

a sense of release, the long wait

meant to lead to what I hear at half past six

in the Imam’s call to prayer –

A voice gathers the faithful, and me

listening, listening as I see too what’s happening

so far away in Ukraine, and recall my rage

when a student kept a picture of Putin

on his Zoom screen after the army’s invasion.

The days of Ramadan humble us

to the pangs of want – to feel what the body feels

without water, or food, to know

the hours from dawn and the slow folding

of sunlight as geography: There are vales, seas,

impossible crossings [knees will give

in, stomachs rebel, you will stumble, envy

the dead] until night leaves the shapes

of day to memory, what was taken away

is what we feed on, the teachings

of daylight reduced to increments

cautiously entered into, after time in basements

and underground shelters where children still sing

and play through the fast and long praying, God

stays unseen, but for the want and what

it teaches of the desert and its light.

Adrianne Kalfopoulou is the author of three poetry collections, most recently A History of Too Much (2018), and a book of essays, Ruin Essays in Exilic Living (2014). She currently teaches at RITDubai, where she is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and English.