House of Prayer


I walk into the beads of thirty-three alhamdulillahs,
I walk into my childhood mouth, repeat alhamdulillah.

Four decades ago, father too walked into this prayer,
his body nested in the oblong Boeing, his alhamdulillah

humming deep until it matched the scale of the engine.
It was during that first crossing from one alhamdulillah

to another home, that my father crushed open the chasm
he has since passed down to every poem I write: [            ]

the hollow, the forgotten Qur’an lodged deep in the night
of an unopened drawer. My quest to belong. Alhamdulillah,

forgive me, forgive me. I praise once again, I symmetry
like the wings of a migrating bird, I repeat alhamdulillah

and rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat, like the rokrok
of an egret. I hold this tasbih to count my alhamdulillahs

thirty-three times, ninety-nine times: the key is to walk
again and again into the holy, repeating alhamdulillah,

alhamdulillah, alhamdullilah, until the skyward calm. Father,
what did you hope for when you uttered alhamdulillah,

when you rinsed over the Atlantic in that giant bird?
When the egg cracked open and the yolk of alhamdullilah

spilled onto a new coast? Was it travelling homeward
or away from homeland? I have learned that alhamdulillah

does not resemble a border, but it is a house of its own.
Alhamdulillah glints beyond language: praise be to God.

My western tongue holds the syllables, unhooks the praise
in my own last name: h-m-d. Always, I recite alhamdulillah.



Alycia Pirmohamed


Alycia Pirmohamed is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Edinburgh, where she is studying poetry written by second-generation immigrants. Her forthcoming chapbook, Faces that Fled the Wind, was selected by Camille Rankine for the 2018 BOAAT Press Chapbook Prize. Alycia is a recent recipient of the 92Y/Discovery Poetry Contest, The Adroit Journal's Djanikian Scholars Program, and winner of The Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest in poetry. Her work can be found in The Paris Review, Gulf Coast Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Best Canadian Poetry, among others. She received an MFA from the University of Oregon.