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Ramadan is Listening by Medina Tenour Whiteman

Ramadan is listening
by which I mean we learn to attend
leaving tongues curled against palates
reluctant to come unstuck
and clutter silence.

It cups its hand around an ear
knows hollow and resounding
like the back of its ample hand
which, palm up, brings feasts
only mouths that stay closed
can taste.

This month is an aunt
that bustles into your house
compliments you on the rugs then
rolls up her sleeves and does the dishes
before you can tell her to stop.

She pours nitric acid down your drains
the ones you’ve coated with cooking oil
pulls out books from your shelves to dust
with an “Ooh, that looks interesting,”
the ones that have bookmarks left
halfway in from six years ago
and now you pick them up where you left off
or give them away.

This matriarch gives your kids a rocket
for leaving their wet towels on the floor
and though she frays your nerves
you’re thankful someone has the pluck
to say so and still be missed
when she leaves.

Ramadan is listening,
gathering stories to go away with,
keeping them ‘til next year
in her voluminous
coat pockets,

more spacious

than the distance

from here

to forever.

Medina Tenour Whiteman

About the Poet

Medina Tenour Whiteman is a British-American Muslim writer, poet and singer based near Granada in Spain. She is the author of the poetry collection Love is a Traveller and We Are Its Path (Ecstatic Exchange, 2015), Huma’s Travel Guide to Islamic Spain (2015), and The Invisible Muslim: Journeys Through Whiteness and Islam (Hurst, 2020). Her work has appeared on BBC Radio, Critical Muslim, Sacred Footsteps, and other international platforms, as well as being anthologised in A Kaleidoscope of Stories by Lote Tree Press. She is currently working on a multi-disciplinary art exhibition on spirituality, botany and women in Andalusi history with the Sufi women's art collective Ruh Karima and recently cofounded the Muslim Writers' Salon. Medina regularly holds creative writing workshops online and in person. Click on photo to visit her website:

This poem appears in A KALEIDOSCOPE OF STORIES - Muslim Voices in Contemporary Poetry

A KALEIDOSCOPE OF STORIES - Muslim Voices in Contemporary Poetry brings together the myriad voices of eighty Muslim poets from diverse backgrounds to powerfully articulate what it means to be Muslim in the modern world. It provides a platform for Muslim voices to be heard speaking about their experiences in their own words, and offers an antidote to the stereotyped, one-dimensional portrayal of Muslims we see so often in the media. The anthology gives the reader a glimpse of the thoughts, hopes and challenges of those who see the world through two or more cultural lenses and provides an authentically Muslim space for the expression of our spiritual, social and personal lives. It brings together the verses of multi-generational voices exploring themes including love and loss, identity and belonging and Islamic spirituality.

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