Seven Scars
Author’s Note: I’ve been receiving news of death and destruction from Iraq for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, my classmates were so oblivious in their privileged bubbles that life at home and life everywhere else seemed jarringly out of sync to me. It was here I learned that “body” and “land”, like “personal” and “political”, are not synonyms for everyone but only those who have been silenced and severed from their roots. So while this poem is a direct response to the person asking the questions at the beginning of each section, it is also a demand to be listened to. A demand for justice.


“What are the colours of your body?” She asks me.

As if she cannot see for herself what I am.

As if she cannot believe her eyes.



I tell her,

over a cup of three-quarters-of-a-person-black-coffee.


Grapefruit-topped-with-too-much-sugar lips,

I tell her.


I tell her.



I tell her,

so that every time I smile,

I am baring a pearly-white-grin of death.



“Where are your colours from?” She asks me.

As if I bought the shades of my body in tubes of oil paint,

as if I mixed them on the palette myself.


I tell her.

These are all of my colours,

organized by name,

reverse alphabetically;

just how you like it.

Za’atar Mixed with Olive Oil in My Sixth Grade Lunch,

I tell her,

Newspaper Articles from September 12th , 2001,

I tell her,

Crude Nests of Shamefully Untameable Hair,

I tell her,

my colours are not all of me,

I tell her,

excuse me while I hide them away,

I tell her,

I know you hate to be reminded of what I am,

I tell her,

I’m sorry.


“Its just hair!” She tells me.

As if it is just hair when you are Samaraie brown.

When you try not to take up space

but your own body defies you, brown.

When you try to be proud

but your own momma betrays you, brown.


Sits you down

on the world’s most uncomfortable chair, 

and yanks at your hair

until your eyes grow rivers,

until your gentle sand dune waves

become burnt stalks of wheat falling from the crown of your head,




I try to tell her.


We are all connected

but we are not all the same,

I try to tell her,

you cannot make a home out of me

just because you want to be

an explorer.



“Where does your body come from?” She asks me.

As if having a body means having a place to belong,

As if I cannot have one without the other.


How do I tell her?


How do I tell her

that I am not from a home but home itself?


How do I tell her

that my parents stole away pieces of the


and mixed it,


the rubble that used to be home,

the screams that used to be laughter,

the fear that used to be love?


How do I tell her

that I am all curved dagger nails and acid rain tears?


How do I tell her

that my body

was the only remnant of the land,

that the land is the only remnant of me.



How do I tell her

that this is all that I am?






How do I tell her

that I am always afraid?


She’s never cared enough to ask,

but the colour of my fear is






The colour of my fear

is sugar-that-I-pour-into-my-chai-brown,



The colour of my fear

is the colour of my home.


And my home

is my fear,

and my fear

is all that I have to return to.



How do I tell her

that my fear is not my own?


That it flows into the river of a past I have not lived,

that it was given to me,

in the small room where my father told me


“There is no room for you to be a little girl,

you must carry the weight of the brown on your shoulders,

until it becomes but an extension of your body.”


“What is yours then?” She asks.

“If you do not have yourself, then what do you have?”

Just the seven-like-the-years-since-my-father-left-scars,

I tell her.

He gave me all this brown,

and a body I cannot return to,

and now I have nothing else.

“What are the colours of your body?” She asks me. 

Nahar Amargi

is an Iraqi storyteller growing into themselves in Tkoronto. In between planning the revolution and watering their plants, they love talking to people on instagram @dreamsofigs.

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