Poetry: Danusha Laméris

danushaInsha’Allah  by Danusha Laméris

I don’t know when it slipped into my speech
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.”
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer.
The baby will come in spring, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain.

So many plans I’ve laid have unraveled
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers.

Every language must have a word for this. A word
our grandmothers uttered under their breath
as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon,
hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes,
dropping the discarded skins into a bowl.

Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah.
Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah
the rice will be enough to last through winter.

How lightly we learn to hold hope,
as if it were an animal that could turn around
and bite your hand. And still we carry it
the way a mother would, carefully,
from one day to the next.


See more excellent poems in Sabio’s Poetry Anthology

About Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to a Dutch father and a mother from the island of Barbados. Her family lived, briefly, in Beirut, Lebanon during the outbreak of the 1975 Civil War. Otherwise, she was raised in Mill Valley and Berkeley, California. After studying painting and graduating from U.C.S.C. with a B.A. in Fine Arts, she began to dedicate herself to writing poems. She now lives in Santa Cruz, California with her husband, Armando and teaches ongoing, private poetry workshops. (source Amazon)

My Impression

“Hope” as an animal that may bite was a fantastic metaphor. I wrote about my affinity for the expression insh’Allah here.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

5 responses to “Poetry: Danusha Laméris

  1. Interesting post…my mother would remind us when we announced plans, “Lord willing”…I find myself saying it now!

  2. Earnest

    Wonderful metaphor. And the more tightly one clings to hope, the more painful it is when it becomes false.

  3. The poem is nice but some, by changing Insha’Allah to Allahu Akbar transform hope into bombs and stonings, both in the name of the `person’ who is common in both expressions.

    And a couple of factoids:
    1) It seems that the Spanish word “ojalá” (an exclamation, identical to the Greek μακάρι–although it has no religious connotation in Greek) stems from Insha’Allah.
    2) In Greek people use(d) the expressions “θεού θέλοντος” (god willing), in more formal circumstances, or “πρώτα ο θεός” (god first, i.e., first (of all) god). Both declining in use now.

  4. Hey Takis,
    Good to see you again.
    Couple of thoughts.

    (1) I actually knew of the Spanish/Arabic thing — loved the greek info.

    (2) Sure, you could substitute “Allahu Akbar” and change the meaning. Or you could substitute, “Hail America” or “Animals suck” or anything and change the meaning.
    Insh’allah is different – words matter. So I get that you don’t like any words that remind you of religion, but here I hope to show how to hear beyond our reflexes.
    Or am I misreading you?

  5. Hi Sabio.
    Indeed (you know me…) I don’t like the use of religious words but I do agree that a thankfulness wish is nice. If I’m not mistaken you mentioned the Japanese “itadakemasu” in one of your postings (which, apparently, is not the same as “bon appetit”). Yes, the act of “thanking” or using a word for hope is good and has a meaning/purpose/reason. (E.g., we shouldn’t always take everything for granted, etc.) But why Insh’allah? Is there anything particularly important in this phrase?

    I think I made a mistake.The Greek word “μακάρι” should be compared to another Greek word, “είθε”, which is more akin to the English word “may”. Of course, “may” can be used in several ways, e.g., as in “you may leave now” or as in “may you live a long and happy life”, and it is only in the second phrase that “μακάρι” or “είθε” could be used.

    I’m digressing? (That’s what I do all the time–my job.) So, back to Insh’allah. I probably I’m particularly disturbed because I spent 7 days in Paris, right after the recent incidents and while the big demonstrations were going on. (No, I’m not a Muslim hater.) Maybe I’ll write something on my blog. I’ve been neglecting it. And there is so much to talk about…

    To end my blathering, here’s a link to a nice Mexican cancion ranchera by the great Vicente Fernandez, called “ojalá que te vaya bonito”: http://youtu.be/SVs-ChUc5UQ

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