My Muslim Refugee Student

what he noticed a year after arriving // in the Netherlands he had to pretend to be Czech // to match the fake papers to translate instructions // directions from English to Arabic the only way to be together // the youngest of harder intellectual curiosity has been rewarded // in line at the pantry in the mornings for several months because of covid // during the school year he painted the signs for our school’s showcases // to get the best of languages it’s like giving up he says // the moment pure sadness unobstructed by any other // emotions return quickly to the subject of his family’s well-being // grow an even beard something he’s wanted // a PlayStation and a few bootleg games including his favorite // he didn’t cry until he heard about his sister’s passing

David M. Alper is a high school AP English teacher in New York City, residing in Manhattan. His work has appeared in Thirty West Publishing House, Dime Show Review, In Parentheses, and elsewhere.