This city is too big when I can’t place you on its map
you’re everywhere but here
how hard it is to cross paths with someone accidentally
how simple it is when it is planned
how true it is that we make our own way in this world
and I would make mine towards you, if only I knew how
I have my camera with me today
I normally tell you when I have my camera with me
but not this time
regardless, though, your chin will be resting gently on my shoulder
I fear you are forgetting me
and so I write this small reminder
that I am still sat in that garden
which is no longer riddled with petals
but could still somehow be kinder.
I watch the sprouts we planted
they’re peeking through the soil
their small green heads are hesitant
they remember February’s toil
They know that once they come up
they will face the sun’s sustaining light
they will feel its warmth encompassing
its touch, its prospect, its bright
So, yes, the sprouts are wary
for they know of the sun’s rays
and how although they come out reaching
they always recede at the end of the day
And so they quiver in ground, a meadow of disheartened seedlings
for its painful to grow accustomed to something
that is so often prone to leaving.
My family and I have just gotten back from a few days in a resort in the sea-side city of Aqaba in Jordan. We swam, we sat on the beach, we ate good food, we slept on clean, white sheets. It was lovely. it was luxury – and it was a little awkward.
To be able to travel even outside of one’s own city is a blessing, but being able to do so with peace of mind and security is just an added layer of fortune. Often, when I travel to these somewhat luxurious places, where staff tend to me while all I have to do is sit and enjoy myself, I feel a sense of underlying discomfort. I start to think…why is it I get to be here, on this beach, complaining about the speed of the hotel breakfast service, while others in Yemen eat paste made of grass just to survive? Why do I get to leave home and go back whenever I please, while Palestinians have been clutching their house keys for decades, waiting to return?
I won’t lie to you and say that these thoughts stop me from enjoying myself. I indulge in the luxury when I’m in it. Of course I do. But I try to keep in mind just how fortunate I really am. On this particular trip, I tried to maintain a healthy level of discomfort by watching a four-part documentary about the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. It was one of the first times I’d ever watched anything about the conflict happening in my region. This fact alone is pretty concerning. I’ve watched a bunch of documentaries before, but only ever about Western history. It made me realize how deeply I’ve internalized the idea that Western history is the only history, and how out of touch I really am.
As was intended, the documentary made me very uncomfortable – probably the most uncomfortable a documentary has ever made me feel, perhaps because I was learning about the tragedy endured in my own bloodline. Watching it only highlighted how strange and awkward it felt to see these establishments of luxury erected in the center of our war-torn region. I sat on the beach of the Red Sea and to my right could see Israel shimmering in the distance, beautiful and terrifying. It looked so real…like it had been there all along.
To sit and simply stare at it can make one feel pretty helpless, not to mention passive and useless. There is little the average person can do to change the circumstances of war, but we can at least educate ourselves, so that if we do indulge in these perhaps ill-timed luxuries, if we do lounge on a beach and happen to stare our ancestors’ oppressors in the face, we can at least see what stands before us with a little more insight.
See you soon.
I miss the sounds of engines
tearing through the night;
do you remember when you went 100
on that dark road beside our secret
and I gripped the seat and laughed?
The silence isn’t so bad
sounds reach me from every corner of the hills
dogs barking and insects chirping and children screaming;
spring is still spring, even now
The sirens don’t disturb me much anymore;
I forget about them until they seep in through the screen windows
and I stop at the kitchen sink with a suddy plate in my hands and think,
Mama found a new star in the sky
she sees it when she’s on the balcony smoking
at first, she thought it was a plane
and watched it and waited for it to move but it didn’t;
she tells me to take a photo of it
I say my camera doesn’t go that far
I don’t know when I’ll see you again
I think about it sometimes — often
the weight of my body hitting into yours
and the way you’ll stumble backwards when you catch me;
if that star is still in the sky when we meet, I’ll point it out to you
if we both reach together
we’ll be able to grasp it.
It’s apparently day 5. It feels nice to know — I had already lost count. There’s music playing right now so I may not be able to formulate proper sentences. I keep having bouts of feeling really low. It might be because I can’t leave the house and distract myself, and it might be because even when this ends I still won’t be able to go see him. I was reading some of Sylvia’s journals, and it broke me to see that she did not want to die. I don’t think anyone does, even if they do end up taking their own life. It feels like a necessity to them, nothing more. I’m trying to surround myself with the thoughts and writings of strong women, I don’t want this to break me, though when I think about it I feel as though I’m going to drop down and die. I am not talking about what you think I’m talking about. I would rewind. I would go through those days again. At least the outings. I wish I had done more in them. But I don’t think I would have been able to act any differently even if I was aware. I still don’t know what’s going to happen. I know what must happen, but I don’t know what will. Both outcomes are up to me. I think I may choose wrong again. I don’t think I would be able to forgive myself for choosing right.
The world is being asked to stay indoors. It’s something I do often, but certainly not this much. Being at home when the world outside your door seems to be catching fire, you being to think, and become more aware of your thoughts. Here are some thoughts I had today.
- This virus is making me nervous without me realizing. It comes out in a temper I haven’t felt in a while.
- I miss him.
- The garden of my home is enchanting in the rain. Pure magic.
- I can’t keep eating.
- Getting paid for writing actually sometimes makes you want to write more. Sometimes it doesn’t.
- I’d write for free, I always have.
- There’s that longing again. I miss even his nose.
- I am very aware of my hands and the things they hold.
- Don’t stay on your bed for too long.
- My mother is everything.
- I hope my dad is okay.
- It should have been me.
- When will he do it, when will he do it?
- No, I can’t sleep this early anymore. Midnight is early for me now.
- Who knows when it’ll happen?
- I’ll keep praying, in the mean time.
- Germs on the carpet.
- Pray anyway. Pray.
Since February 8th
I have felt as if I were sitting on my knees in a garden in which all the flowers have been ripped out;
there is nothing around me but overturned soil and leftover petals
and a sweet perfume
that every moment gets swept away more completely
by a wind that won’t stop blowing.
Today, Amman had a pulse
and I was an electric sparkle
in her pretty green vein.
I half-woke at night’s peak
he stirred me, he must have
and the first thing I felt was the breadth of the sky
and the boldness of each star
hinged there, pridefully in their domain;
I had forgotten they were of the throne
At night’s peak, heaven is widest
so wide that it engulfed the bed
and yet that warmth dragged at me
the warmth of my blood, which in sleep means ‘life’
which I knew once I had been drained of
though was somehow still kept breathing;
I remembered this curious fact at night’s peak
and other forgotten things
But they were not enough
not on their own
to shake me from my warmth
so he willed a timely reminder
an echo that met no walls;
I shuddered, the half-waking now full
and the starlight surged
and in its glow, I saw beneath me not a bed