Dreaming Out Loud Anthology Book Cover“The Little Syrian Girl” by Anes Ahmed is a piece from DREAMing Out Loud: Voices of Undocumented Students, an anthology featuring 58 personal essays, short stories, and poems by student DREAMers who participate in the DREAMing Out Loud workshops. The anthology includes an introduction by DREAMing Out Loud director and co-founder, award-winning novelist and essayist Álvaro Enrigue, who, along with writers Charlie Vázquez and Lisa Ko, taught and mentored the students.

“The Little Syrian Girl”

Mama was always surgical when answering
questions I brought home from school. She’d wrap

around my hijab after breakfast, twirling it
with a magician’s control around my neck

and scalp. Grabbing the safety pin from her
mouth, she poked the fabric and linked their ends.

As we held hands to school, I asked her again—
my mouth, a broken faucet. She held frozen. Always

did when I brought up Baba, or Syria, even our travels.
She propped on a knee and stared at the grass. She was

formulating, playing and practicing her mental sentences.
Everything isn’t as bad as what the news showed, she said.

I knew she was lying. I saw that photograph of a Syrian
washed ashore, motionless. Did the sea drown him and

the coffle of children in just mercy? Mama won’t tell me.
I’d cry in bed tears the boy couldn’t. How his soul turned

the valves of my eyes that Allah’s rain was seeping
I know prayer can’t heal lesions of memory, but I pray for