I serendipitously stumbled upon this picture book by Oliver Jeffers a few years ago when my five year old picked it out of a pile of books in the library. She spied an odd bite mark on the back cover and insisted I read it to her.With little hope for substance, I swiftly scanned the pages and thought it another silly book that might give her a laugh or two.

I read the book to her. Then I read it to myself — slowly this time. I took the book home and read it to my family. I read it…

My unspoken misery is knowing you are near,

Nearer to me than myself.

But here I am, far away,

Longing to be near.

— For you, my fantastically resilient daughters who turn nightmares into dreams

They said to me stay home,

The streets you shall not roam.

They said to me be still,

So others won’t be ill.

So here I sit, home, still and slow.

But inside I feel something grow,

Beyond the fear, beyond the gloom,

My heart and mind begin to bloom.

And just like that my room transforms,

My halls and walls take on new forms,

A palace, fort, a pirate ship,

Four bedposts whisk me on a trip.

And all friendless unread pages,

Are unfettered from their cages,

you say

“be You”

but you mean

“be Me too”


my You

negates your Me

(or so you say)

you call it tolerance

and it is dominance

until my…

The schizophrenia of my skepticism,

Birthed from the empiricism of my existence.

A convoluted contradiction,

Guised in adornments of reified reason.

The battles of mind beget the casualties of heart,

but then it hits me

crashing waves of lingering lucidity

visions of pure perception

glimpses of true Reality

grasp it, taste it

sweet salient of Truth

a symphony of cosmic…

Amira Bennabi Kunbargi

wage beauty| published in McSweeny’s Internet Tendency; Anchor Magazine| recipient of the 2018 SCBWI Emerging Voices Award

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