Writer’s Note: “Unread” is my most recent poem and extended metaphor. I am proud to say that this piece is among my most compelling works, as it subtly questions whether we can define ourselves by where we come from. You may have noticed patterns in my writing style. Painful subjects are only discussed through metaphor. I challenge you to read between the lines. All the best, and thank you so much for reading. -Naima
I am a book, sitting on a dusty shelf.
Countless passersby take a glimpse of my spine,
In awe at my compelling title,
But not intrigued enough to open the first chapter.
Few have read the first chapter,
Fewer having read up to the final page.
But it is the last few pages that I crave for others to read.
Lay me out in this quiet library,
And read in between the lines.
I’m not quite sure I want to be read.
I’ll just let you look at my cover until I’m ready to be opened.
My analytical mind craves to build a connection with a true intellectual.
Assess the world around us.
Be passionate about something.
Be passionate about anything.
And let me share these aspects of myself with you.
I’m tired of small talk and, “how’s it goin’?”
Let us wrap our minds around a truly compelling subject,
And look beyond the title and the author name.
Hi, I’m Naima,
But I doubt you will remember my name.
But you will have something to remember.
The tone of my passages,
Dank with nervous excitement.
The image of myself, the author, on the back cover,
My eyes give away my curiosity,
My inquisitive nature.
Why do you ask so many questions?
Well, why don’t you?
You will remember the run-on sentences that leave little room for pauses.
So, go on.
Ignite a discussion
That doesn’t veer into nothingness and half-hearted summaries.
But if I can give you a preview of my story,
I would like to tell you that I am not where I come from.
You’ve caught me at a time when I’m shattering intergenerational absurdities,
And breaking the confines of cultural expectations.
I strive to rise above adversity,
Above the weight of dark memory.
But if I do tell you where I come from,
I won’t specify a location.
I am from
A bottomless thirst for knowledge,
A successful academic background.
I am from
A never-ending pursuit of quality health,
Weight-lifting by day to build physical strength,
Meditation by night to maintain a stable mind.
I am from
An infectious optimism,
An almost-English politeness.
I don’t belong in this library,
For my personality is much louder than this white-noise,
Or the aggressive hushhh.
Perhaps you should take me off the shelves,
And tell the librarian that my story caught your attention.
I can promise that I will broaden your perspective on people like me,
People who don’t characterize the places that they come from.
I can promise that I will inspire you to dig deeper,
To question and to analyze.
I only ask you for one favor.
Don’t bring me back to this library.
Take me to somewhere
Where I can thrive,
Express these words still unread
On my dusty pages.
Take me to somewhere safe.
A place that I can call home.
And when you reach the final chapter,
Please pass on my story.
I cannot thank you enough for completing the final page.
Don’t tuck these words beneath your pillow.
Perhaps I will learn to do the same.