Zeina Hashem Beck



There is something about the adhan at dawn, how it lifts
your head from your pillow; how it pulls
you from sleep like a bucket from a dark
well, heavy with the same wish to fall;
how when the sky is still full of shadows, it calls
that prayer is better than sleep
(and there’s something Shakespearean
about it, and something modern);
how the voices rise now
from different speakers in different mosques—
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, an unsynchronized
Greek chorus that glazes the city, reaches
the gutters, the babies in their cots, the thieves, repeats
Prayer is better than sleep, as if
The world is beautiful and full of sunrises, prayer
is better than sleep, so you grip
your lover’s arm, the book on your bedside table,
your cigarette pack, your blanket, as if
Yes, I heard you. Hallelujah. Amen. Amen.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet whose debut collection, To Live in Autumn (The Backwaters Press, 2014), has won the 2013 Backwaters Prize and was a finalist for the Julie Suk Award.