Sharif El Gammal-Ortiz


Poet and translator Sharif El Gammal-Ortiz is currently a doctoral student in Caribbean Literature at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He enjoys writing poems about other poems, using repetition as a form of remembrance, and synchronizing his breathing to whatever silences he comes by, since these contain the sacred names. His poetry has appeared in The Caribbean Writer, The Acentos Review, SAND, The Atlas Review, Sargasso, among others. Book and film reviews have also appeared in Callaloo, Moko, and Caribbean Studies. A Columbia University MFA graduate in poetry and translation, he lives in Carolina, Puerto Rico. 

Honoring an Egyptian

The leopardess chases a gazelle. When the dust cloud
produced by the two tussling beasts disperses,
the leopardess appears atop her quarry
with her fangs deeply secured around its throat.
In one high-pressurized bite she crushes
the windpipe and severs the jugular. She then drags
the kill up top to the northernmost region
of the Mediterranean tree and hangs it on
the very bough where I sit perched, praying to God
in a voice neither mine nor of someone I know,
but crying and reasoning with angels all the same. 

Sixteen days from the five-year anniversary
of my father’s passing I become,
if only momentarily, subcutaneously implanted
into my dear papa, the chest port
through which he receives his chemotherapy.
As the IV pump slowly administers
the poison into his system I ask if he remembers
the portrait, he dressed in a thobe
and my brother and I in yellow blue-striped shirts,
the three of us all looking intently
into the camera. He answers yes, our six eyes
sounded louder than a cackle of hyenas
fighting over a gazelle carcass. The leopardess
the catheter exposing the vein to the open.    

©The Acentos Review 2017