Poetry for Monday. Melissa Fry Beasley: Qamile

Poetry for Monday. Melissa Fry Beasley: Qamile

Very special words for a very special Monday. Qamile, a poem by Melissa Fry Beasley

Poetry for Monday. Melissa Fry Beasley Qamile

Castle of Kruja and Skanderbeg Museum over the skyline. Photo credit: wikipedia

In a remote and patriarchal village
In rough mountains north of Kruja
Life can be hard
Last Burnesha in Bangladesh
Dressed like and always in the company of
Just one of the “boys”
Tell us what you would say
If you could speak
Nothing is impossible here
Was it out of fear that
Tasted like a new penny in the mouth
Or love like brothers with guns
That convinced you to take this vow
Of Sworn Virgin
Owner of land
And place of
Disconsolate singing
Nine sisters
Is much responsibility
For one so young
And in the end
You kissed them each good bye as
They left you alone
Children with broken smiles
Dissolving into tranquil skies
How you filled the void
When there were no more men
Owning property
Sitting with legs open
Eyes full of misgiving
Always it is your word
Your opinion or permissions
They seek
But when you answer
Seeing shadows for the first time
Is the heart
Man or woman?


I wrote this upon discovering a particular lady and the fact that there have been many more like her. Amazed at her strength and bravery, baffled by her ability to actually accept manhood as a lifeway …… realizing this was something I had to at least touch upon. When there are no men left in a family to inherit the lands and home, to own property, or to work and provide for your loved ones people here are often left with no choice but to have a woman become the man. This means an eternal vow of celibacy, never marrying, no children or family of your own. It means dressing and behaving as man every minute of every day. It does however allow certain freedoms, ownership, voting, drinking, smoking, expression.
View Comments (4)
  • Amazing as always, Melissa. Congratulations

  • (Here Martin) Congratulations for such a great poem, Melissa. Your words inspire us!

  • The heart is always human, it’s how I possibly try to think first, with all its good, and its fallibility. As people we have it within us to change, adapt, share to the the best we can of experience. Like as the skill within crafting the poetry of lines and words above.

  • Ali Boyd

    As always, a beautiful poem, and such an intriguing tradition; she becomes a man in order to inherit, yet it’s not quite manhood because she/he is avowed celibate and cannot further the line in any case. She’s at once the first [in her family] in between woman and man, and marks the end of a lineage. Wow.


Melissa Fry Beasley is a Humanistic poet of Cherokee origin, who resides in Oklahoma . Through the written and spoken word, she examines the gap between the ideal and the reality involved in living in the world during this time. Her work is both personal and subjective, yet she does not turn aside from the political and social issues of her environment. She is a woman who seeks to express her individual perspective and needs while accepting the diversity involved in questions of gender, race and culture. Melissa believes that change is necessary and deploys her writing to reflect her personal experience in the wider social and political context. You can find her work in print and online in Indian Country Today Media Network, Native News Today, The Native American Encyclopedia, FirstPeople.Us, Working Effectively With Aboriginal People, Churn Magazine, Big River Poetry Review, Enhance Magazine, A&U Magazine, and many others. She has two chapbooks forthcoming. " When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator." Mahatma Gandhi " They won't break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then that we will see the rising of the moon." Bobby Sands

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