These two poems are from The Call of Paradise (Two Sylvias Press). The speaker of Majda Gama’s The Call of Paradise is a “[b]ride of many cities, daughtered by the East & mothered by the West,” with poems placed in Beirut and punk L.A., Bab Makkah, the Al-Ain Oasis, and “in the red, backhoed dirt of Virginia,” the Red Sea and “the summer / Shoreline in America,” visible and invisible, her hair both black and neon pink, occupying the edge but “unable to submerge.” Even the poems’ forms, at times, feature parenthetical weavings, and ghazal-like shifts and dualities. The result of this fluid positionality is nuanced, hushed witness, oud-scented ritual, and deep artfulness. The speaker may not arrive in paradise, but at the termination of this beautiful sequence of poems, she hears its call. —Diane Seuss, Contest Judge, and author of frank: sonnets
The Scent Censes
Sometimes I think about your sheets
wrapped around me in a cold London
flat, the sandalwood scent that remained
as weight after my body left, and how
you preferred this invisible body.
Dream of dunes, of silk sand.
I suspect in all your dreams
I walked a path that left footsteps
on the finest desert carpet
where a tree of agar wood breathed
as it harbored a transiting hoopoe.
In every Persian Gulf home
a brazier of gilt or gold.
The dorment scent I awaken
on a bed of coal, now dresses
my body in the pure smoke
of new amber.