The minar and dome of our masjid
took longer to grow than trees.
Our fathers bought the land, then tilled it.
Before that, it was a parking lot
for the Jehovah’s Witness.
They sold it when the door to door
wasn’t bringing in the donations.
Our fathers sowed the seeds then
Qurans and janamazes. In all my years
from when I was four to sixteen,
the walls went up, and then the dome grew
the same pace my breasts did.
The minar too, grew from a little baby penis
to reach the heights of the Queens sky,
push up past the telephone lines,
let itself poke up, respectful still of
the Episcopalian church steeple next to it,
the flat brick surface of the kingdom
of the Jehovah’s Witness.
It was fine real estate for religion
on National street, a church,
a kingdom and a masjid,
crammed next to each other,
wall to wall, skin to skin.
And if you crossed the street
there was a Catholic store
selling crucifixes and paintings
of women and men in hell burning.
The sinners looked like all of us,
but I always thought that all of us
in our agony looked like Jesus.
Note: Masjid Alfalah was the first Sunni masjid built in New York City. It was founded by working-class Pakistani immigrants in Corona, Queens.