"Ribbon Time: The Moment" by Adnan Onart

June 16, 2016

"Ribbon Time: The Moment" by Adnan Onart

His uncles, uncles-in-law holding his arms behind his back,
Bony fingers clamping his head — no looking down,
The wooden floor sucks his feet cold.
Gown pulled up to resentment and nakedness.

Last weeks, last days will tiptoe away in front of his eyes.

His gentle father trying to calm him:
Nothing to be afraid of, he will say, just a red ribbon.
Why red, he will wonder.

Two bowls of soup with the foreskin in it,
Will laugh his cousins,
You'll become a man by drinking…
But only if you don't shriek like a kid.

Why two bowls, he will wonder.

His older brothers will explain:
It is just an issue of hygiene…
Even Americans these days…
What about Elvis
, he will wonder.

From a back corner of the room,
The father, the older brothers start the chant:
Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber!
The uncles, uncles-in-law join in:
Allahü ekber, Allahü ekber!

God jumping from the echo
Catches the boy with his thousand hands;
Thousand hands multiply into tens of thousands.
The boy, the figurehead, makes a last attempt
To detach itself from the ship.
The colorless blood, the fear, flows from the belly to the tip.
The terror, a turtle now, retracts into itself.

Through a wooden door swinging
A man in a white coat walks in
Carrying a scream in his hands.

Adnan Adam Onart
New York, NY 1998

Share Episode

Shortened URL


is the co-host of True Talk, a global affairs talk show on WMNF in Tampa. She grew up in Kuwait.

is the creative director at Affinis Labs. He was previously the co-host of the Al Jazeera America show, The Stream. He’s a playwright, and a first-generation Pakistani-American.

is a PhD student at Columbia University studying Arabic and Comparative Literature.

is a professor of Middle East History at California State University in San Marcos. He has also taught in Turkey and Spain.

is a former senior program officer in the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace. She is a professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at NOVA Southeastern University.

is a poet. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is an active Muslim member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

grew up in Istanbul and now lives and teaches elementary school in New York.

is Mexican-American, a lawyer, and a mother. She lives in Seattle.

is a Pakistani-American author, freelance journalist, and writing coach. She is a writer for Umm Nura’s chapter book series for children, Jannah Jewels.

emigrated from Russia to Dallas, Texas when she was eight years old. She is a bilingual elementary school teacher. She grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church.

is a retired federal prosecutor and the father of 11 children. He lives in New York.

is a multimedia artist and photographer in Washington, D.C. She is the founder of D.C. Townhall Dialogues and Muslims Against Homophobia and LGBT Hate.

is an attorney specializing in labor and employment issues.

is a photographer living in Dallas, Texas.

lives in Dallas, Texas where she volunteers with the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation.

is a Mancunian who converted to Islam in 1993.