In the beginning was the Abyss

I awakened soon after

A hero’s jewel clutched in my fist

My finger pointing, lips moving, but silent

The words would not come

I lit a candle and lamented

I worshipped my disillusion

as I would a martyred saint

By the light of the altar

I recognized no kindred

Solitary awareness

The dearest form of lunacy

It sharpens our vision

until we see a million planets

in a dewdrop

Light another candle

Did I offer my Faith to a stranger?

Was it stolen or freely given?

Like Cassandra

cursed with prophecy by Apollo

No one believes me

when I speak

of the destruction of Troy

I tell them I was ambushed

The cynics say I volunteered

I say the void bloomed within me

but I am only sure that I was there

and did not escape

The slippery petals

They closed in and swallowed

Later, I dipped the petals in honey

and offered them, pleading

Ask me, and I will tell you

there is something more than this

And the mind is a magic wand

bestowing spirits on every rock and tree

Light another candle.

This orbiting globe

of Faith and the Abyss

forever spinning, spinning

and desperate to learn

which hemisphere is real

Light another star

They are candles of an ancient altar

Would that I could snatch one for myself

Maybe, by its light, they could see

One night in my telescope

I find me once more

A sacristan of Martian Cydonia

reverently dusting The Face with my robe

after all of the pilgrims have gone



Layla Azmi Goushey is a professor, author, and editor. She recently launched the Beladi Journal ( She is a reviews editor for Sukoon Magazine (, an Arab-themed art and literature journal and she has contributed reviews and articles to The Middle East Eye ( and Jadaliyya ( She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Adult Education: Teaching and Learning Processes. She has recently published two essays: “The Jordanian Kids” in the June 2019 St. Louis Anthology and “Profile of a Citizen: Generations Then and Now” in the March 2020 anthology, Beyond Memory: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Creative Nonfiction.

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