Tamam Kahn

He had to take us there, way out in Beersheba,
the land of nothing. His face was a hungry moon,
gaunt and white. He couldn’t look at me.

A woman doesn’t start a nation with a baby 
and a mule; not alone she doesn’t, so Sarah helped 
with her story of that jealousy that pushed me out

like I pushed Ishmael. I knew before my baby came.
I’d seen the well, foresaw
the black stone, had the tearing pain,

the time of doubt. I ran between 
the hills, but that was in a vision. After that the time 
had come to run and I was fierce

and mad with thirst for all I left behind and
as I ran I yelled at God, I called on God,
I said – Give it and hold nothing back. After Ishmael

unearthed the Well of Zamzam with his heel,
after the caravans found us, after Mecca
burst awake around us, after

Abraham returned to wake the Ka’ba,
then I could relax. My gift from God
is larger than I am. I doubt they mention it.

Watch Tamam Kahn read this poem in our video from the Inauguration.

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Tamam Kahn is a pilgrim and storyteller. She has co-led groups to Morocco, Damascus, and India, visiting the dargahs of Sufi saints and sharing practices and zikrs with local Sufis of various lineage families. She is a poet and writer, and is currently working on a book about the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, with Sufi scholar, Dr. Arthur Buehler. Tamam’s completed title, Married to Muhammad: Untold History of the Prophet’s Wives, is expected spring 2010 from Monkfish Books.