Angele Ellis: Arabic Lesson

Vox Populi

Unlike the illiterate villager in an Arab novel

I know alef from a telegraph pole

single stroke of the definite article

first letter of my French name

I have chanted this alphabet from childhood

catching letters but not words

incantation of my lost culture

fractured Rosetta Stone

fever dream of our restless planet

Remember: short vowels are implied

many words are deduced from context

study the transmissions carefully

can you tell kalb from qalb, dog from heart?

Remember: khay is harsh yet soft

not the hard k that is actually qof

a q requires no u except in transliteration

which is why Koran is Qu’ran

Remember: written letters are easy to confuse

mnemonics may be necessary

The Bay of Noon reminds me

dot on the b, bay, submerged under the curve

dot on the n, noon, high like the midday sun

Remember: shouf means look

insistent preface to assertions

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