harsh or corrosive in tone
Two months since a
virulent Islamophobe was sworn in as secretary of war—a cabinet position that hasn’t existed since World War II.
group of people willing to obey orders
But you’d be surprised how quickly armed military
personnel and pepper spray shut down the well-meaning protests of liberals in small, leafy towns.
the prevailing current of thought
They’re still happening, the protests-turned-riots, even though the
mainstream media won’t cover them.
surpassing the ordinary or normal
Technically, I’m not doing anything wrong, not yet, but if the police stop me—well, let’s just say they have an
uncanny ability to make technicalities disappear.
a detail that is considered insignificant
Technically, I’m not doing anything wrong, not yet, but if the police stop me—well, let’s just say they have an uncanny ability to make
place on top of
The words are
superimposed on a cascade of banned books, dangerous books.
with the upper or anterior part of the body foremost
A hard knot forms in my stomach, but I keep walking, eyes still on the poster, and bump
headlong into a woman rushing in the opposite direction.
showing courteous regard for people's feelings
I try to be polite,
give life-time employment to
My dad teaches poetry and writing. Did teach, I should say. Until he was fired—mysteriously deemed unqualified for the
tenured professorship he’d had for over a decade.
sew on as a decoration
He’s drawn the curtains in the small studio space—a white sofa piled high with navy-blue pillows, some with
appliquéd anchors on them; a couple of overstuffed arm chairs; lots of faded pink and ivory seashells in mason jars; and, on the wall, a framed poster declaring LIFE’S A BEACH against white sand and cerulean sky and sea.
deep blue like the color of a clear sky
He’s drawn the curtains in the small studio space—a white sofa piled high with navy-blue pillows, some with appliquéd anchors on them; a couple of overstuffed arm chairs; lots of faded pink and ivory seashells in mason jars; and, on the wall, a framed poster declaring LIFE’S A BEACH against white sand and
cerulean sky and sea.
a picture representing a continuous scene
It would be a perfect moment to freeze in time and make into a little
diorama that I could inhabit for an eternity.
a brief indulgence of your impulses
My dad badgered us into watching Doctor Who, starting with the old-school episodes, and we got hooked. Since then we’ve had on-and-off binge-watching
an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
Bonfire? Let’s not use
euphemisms. They’re burning books in the school parking lot.
strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
We race across the lawn, an
acrid burning smell heavy in the night air.
conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods
As I approach my yard, it dawns on me that I might be able to outrun the person who was chasing us, but no matter how fast I sprint, I can’t escape this new reality of curfews and
clandestine meetings and cinders rising in the air.
placed side by side often for comparison
I’m smacked with the smell of frying onions and adrak lehsan. The smell of home
juxtaposed with the sweaty, breathless odor of desperation and the taste of rust in my mouth.
the junction between two neurons
She’s like me; I know that her
synapses must be on rapid fire, but my mom’s practiced meditation for years.
acceptance without protest
I’m not sure Dad believes me, but he accepts my nod as
He gives me a
mirthless smile and walks toward my mom.
compulsory force or threat
“Beta, I spoke out of fear, out of an instinct to protect you and your mom. And I do want to protect you, but I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to think, even for a minute, that hiding who we are would have been the right answer. Taqiyya, concealing our religion, is forgivable, but only under extreme
duress—only to save lives. And the census was hardly a life-threatening situation. Look at Hazrat Summayah. If she didn’t conceal her faith, it hardly seems acceptable for us to do so.”
discuss again; go back over
“Layla. We made a choice. And it was the right one. What do you think you’re going to accomplish by
rehashing it now? The past is the past.”
emphasizing the organic relation between parts and the whole
So much of my dad’s poetry is about finding truth in small things. Of course he believes this. And my mom—her whole chiropractic practice is based on a
holistic health approach to life.
most frequent or common
During the election, with paranoia and Islamophobia and isolationism as the
prevailing themes, my parents held on to this hope.
disturb, especially by minor irritations
During the primary debates, when the now-president said on national television that there was justification and precedent for a Muslim registry, my parents, along with so many others, dismissed it as fearmongering, red meat to
rile up the base.
a spy or saboteur or terrorist planted in an enemy country
When politicians seized on an attack at a French nightclub to warn about creeping Sharia and
sleeper cells on US soil and polls began to favor the Muslim ban and the registry, so many of us said, “It can’t happen here.”
using language effectively to please or persuade
But the lies, the
rhetoric...the fake news, the false statistics, all gave those well-meaning people who say they’re not bigots cover to vote for a man who openly tweeted his hatred of us on a nearly daily basis.
an exaggerated expression, usually of praise
It’s not loud enough for me to hear, but every National Security Address hits the same notes. America First. Lots of euphemisms and misplaced
Saccharine sentimentality isn’t going to stop me from feeling helpless and terrified.
the quality of being falsely emotional in a maudlin way
sentimentality isn’t going to stop me from feeling helpless and terrified.
a display of ornamental speech or language
My father is homeschooling me, and he insists we follow the curriculum. He also likes to add his own
flourishes, hence all the poetry—right now it’s Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
decorate with colors
A dark van with a black-and-white logo
emblazoned on the door parks behind my mom’s sedan.
having a relatively high resistance to flow
Suit #2 draws a gun, and suddenly time slows down, like it’s
viscous, and my entire body is drenched in sweat.
provide with power and authority
Suit #1 speaks, his voice a taut wire. “Under order of the Exclusion Authority and by the powers
vested in the secretary of war under Presidential Order 1455, we are here to serve notice and carry out your relocation.”
under a moral obligation to someone
beholden to neither love nor tyrant.