I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else
He said: “You sure look familiar. Don’t I know you?”
And by familiar, he meant somebody
used to stand naked before him
with a smile, sky-blue liner smeared.
That nakedness is the norm, not a hijab
and an abaya.
All that is left of the other.
That he’d take me down to the beach
to watch the water, stretch out
before us, gleaming with million lights
of the sun.
That the sea is a place that is somewhere—there, beyond
the water-line. That is why the others are leaving.
This is why we have left.
That he’d come over for some wine
not dwelling upon any particular
train of thought.
There was no need.
Realizing that the day would come
when he, too, and the thought of
him would melt out of my existence,
leaving me alone.
Here, on this side of the water-line, is nowhere
Originally from Maplewood, NJ, Ilari Pass is a retired maintenance worker of the United States Postal Service. She holds a BA in English from Guilford College of Greensboro, NC, and an MA in English, with a concentration in literature, from Gardner-Webb University of Boiling Springs, NC. She was awarded the Broad River Review Editors' Prize in Poetry Award for 2016 and 2017, and a Ron Rash Award in Poetry finalist for 2019.
Other works appear or are forthcoming in Drunk Monkey: Literature and Film, JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Free State Review, Blue Mountain Review, The Raw Art Review, The Penmen Review, The Greenleaf Review, The Lyre, and Common Ground Review.
Ms. Pass enjoys traveling, playing the piano, and spending quality time with her two children, and one grandson.
"A poem’s ability to depict memory is what makes a poet a maker of forms. Is memory true, or do we twist memory into our own form? I argue that we shape the past and call it memory.
I’d crossed paths with a man I was once romantically involved with at a local coffee shop. He broke my heart. I recognized him. He kept staring at me. I was fully dressed in my abaya and hijab. Minutes later he got up from his table, cautiously walked up to me and said, ‘You sure look familiar. Don’t I know you?’ Lowering my gaze, I replied, ‘I am somebody else.’ That experience overwhelmed me so much I thought I was going to faint.”