Tamara Albama reveals many faces in her collection of “poetry and musings,” As I Lay by the Tigris and Weep, a girl god publication. Her untitled and decptively simple pieces, none more than a page long, describe a fierce woman who calls for nothing less than a world-wide revolution against the misogyny of old men in their robes/so terrified of little girls who bleed-/paralyzed at the thought of all that power. . ./They must suppress her from the cradle to the grave,/because if she realizes her power/theirs will be no more. Simultaneously, she breaks the pernicious stereotype of the anti-male feminist. Devotion to her husband and sons rings through her biography and poems such as this:
His words of love and concern
soothe this bruised and shattered heart.
The safety he provides
to be able to speak the words that have never
the pain that has never been articulated,
buried so deep, it was seemingly forgotten,
only to resurface in a bathtub of my own tears.
Albama writes as one who, as an infant in her mother’s lap, fled Iraq and the repression of theocrats and despots whose mistreatment of women she repudiates while yet longing for the antiquity and strength of her Motherland’s culture as learned from her beloved father. She yearned for a home she never knew, and which may no longer exist, while growing up in the often hostile world of immigrants who are sometimes unwelcome and even persecuted in their new home.
A brown face amongst a sea of pale,
their stone cold glare pierces my spirit.
I already know I do not belong here,
reminded of this every time I step outside.
I long for a place I can call Home.
She makes clear that she has been betrayed by her culture's treatment of girls and by the animosity of the test of the world. Here is a poem that reveals her longing for what she lost, a pervasive sorrow at what she has suffered, and an intense sense of loneliness.
Leave me here to dance in the shadows, if not
for a little while longer....read more (2/2)
I will tell all my secrets to the Moon, She
will never betray me.
Her glow in the darkness gives me comfort,
And allows my aching spirit to rest.
Albama reminds us-and herself-that she is: descended from the Priestesses of Sumer,/A land they call, ‘The Cradle of Civilization,’/a time when Goddess reigned,/and women honored as her incarnation on Earth.//Today, this land is drowning in the blood of/innocents-all because we have forgotten Her. Slowly she has discovered and forged the inner strength necessary both to survive and to effect change. In one of the "musings " mentioned in the book's title, Albama relates:
To survive my childhood, I learned how to weave
words, step in and out of different realities,
different worlds, anything to escape the
cruelty of my present situation.
I look back and realize the power I had.
In some pieces, Albama apostrophizes the Beloved, reminiscent of the great Persian mystic poet known as Rumi. Filled with ecstatic adoration, Rumi’s unidentified “Beloved” represented, we are told, his idea of God. Similarly, the identity of Albama’s “Beloved” is ambiguous, but perhaps she addresses those to whom she dedicates her book, “To the Goddess, my Motherland, and women and girls all over Mother Earth. . . .” What is not ambiguous is that Albama calls for us to abjure subordination, suppression, and silence originating in fear and hatred based on identities assigned us at birth, and incites us to rebel and own our strength and beauty.