A Triptych of Poems from Safia Jama

Happy Halloween! To end this month’s theme of Transformation, we present to you three poems from an accomplished and talented poet, Safia Jama. If you don’t know the origins of Halloween, it was called All Hallows’ Eve, a time of year for remembering the dead and when the liminal boundary between this world and the other world thinned. Safia’s work speaks to that connection to the otherworldly, the deep recesses of our collective memories and the power of the imaginative spirit to heal. Enjoy!

Safia Jama_headshot - Safia Jama.JPG


Overcome by a pain

in the gut—

I had to go right there,

treading water,

so very far from the shore

and our bleach-stained towels

And it was as with any Secret:

I felt sad

(watching it descend)

and wistful

as an astronaut

watching her shuttle

torqueing into the deep




I sit on this stone step, the Angel of the Waters at my back.

Grown up girls and boys paddle by in boats.

Remember when we paddled by in boats?

And that day we went with your friends who were falling in love

and I wore my hair in two braids?

The turtles strain their necks as if they expect some bread of advice.

I pick up a stalk of deli daisies at my feet.

The French girls take out cameras exclaiming, La tortue!

I slide a fingernail under each stem, and float each flower.

I make my procession of daisies along the shore,

and the French girls quietly take pictures.


Warm blanket I pull over my head.

I’m not in bed, I’m in a field and it is raining, and bodies are around me.

I’m not in a field, but on the edge of a rocky crag, and I imagine your hand

is stroking my head. You liked it when I stroked your head, you said

it calmed you down. I realize I need to let you go, sooner or later,

and that you or I won’t go off the edge, but rather we will go on with our lives,

get on with our lives.

Still the blanket is there, and it is appealing to pull it over my head

on a summer’s afternoon.

Safia Jama was born to a Somali father and an Irish-American mother in Queens, New York. A Harvard graduate and a Cave Canem fellow, she has published poetry in Reverie, Boston Review, BOMB, Cagibi, Under a Warm Green Linden, and No, Dear. Safia was a semi-finalist in the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry. Recently, CUNY TV invited her to talk about her life, poetry and multiracial background for a segment of the “Shades of U.S.” series. Safia teaches at Baruch College and offers talent coaching to creative people. She tweets @safiaPOET.

Her personal motto: Breathe

Photo credit: Jess X. Snow