Issue One

heart, star fed.

Amal Amer

Written in interconnected isolation of the covid-19 pandemic

so much of this year i’ve spent

s t a r g a z i n g

staring at my friends’ faces on zoom screens

i am used to this
my people found their way home on

horizonless seas

by stars thousands of years

a w a y

sewed sorghum at the ‘isha rising of the Pleiades,

planted with Sirius, Ursa Major, Pegasus

i am used to feeding myself

finding nourishment from

those in lands far off

so i find Semhar in france and she, me

habesha and yemeni forming f a m i l i a r i t y

family continents away

found comfort hearing

how we met and cooked together

relieved her mama who worried about her daughter

among so many muzungus whom

you know you can’t trust because you have to pre-eat before you visit their homes

Semhar brought her home to me in a suitcase,

packed and magicked through customs and border patrol,

triumphant, i am finally going to feed you!

injera, not unlike what my grandma fed my father,

unlike what you eat at the restaurants,

made and rolled by her auntie

berebere roasted by her grandma

shiro chickpea paste, ground by her mother

made a meal in my kitchen

where i had fed her half a dozen times, roles reversed
made a guest in my own home,
brought her f i n g e r s full of food to my mouth

kulas, fed with one hand, and the hands and hands and hands of her ancestors from so far away

how now this memory continues to feed me

i know how to be guided from far off

f a m i l y, whatsapp to hear their voices

hear Bushra ask her aunt the recipe for butter chicken,
then listening to a voice note in urdu and english and suddenly i am eating love
t r a n s p o r t e d
tell me you can’t teleport
watch how love travels
light hands

stars guide me h o m e

meaning hearts that love me.

know me, nourish me, need me.

and now i understand why

my ancestors spoke of stars

like they knew them

cousins who stayed in the homelands while we migrated.

family who journeyed while we stayed.

keyfek, aish akbarakh, hamdulillah, wa abouki? wa jidda?

tell me how you survived for so long

i say star gazing but i mean s t a r b a t h i n g

like i could make it through this year or

any of those to come without

steeping in love

relearn star stories via zoom

Jacques and Alex read me poetry

and i receive it in my heart glow, gently

send me photos of their books

with hand written notes,

and i know comfort, too

soaking in love

like the s t a r s s e t t i n g told my ancestors when the rains would

come soften their sun cracked mountains

s t a r stones and star bones

star s h i f t s kept us earthbound, living, narrative g e n e r a t i o n

generative, my grandmother’s grandmother’s, grandmother’s, grandmother’s

g r a n d m o t h e r s

say you need stars to stay alive


i eat light.

from screens

photons forming their f a c e s

i drink

from my birthday Janae passed me a mug with the phrase

friends are like stars, you can’t always see them but they’re always there

years stretched, i hold not to the cliche but to the kindness in g i v i n g

the mug lost in transit betwixt continents

i am still drinking

from that cup

this year i can’t feed my friends


i bring food to my own mouth made by my hand

yet i am not full until i am f i l l e d with them