Animosity- the word taints my palate
already, nesting this once again rage. I wake to tales
of animosity, breaking my fast
of evening, my insides
churn into a blood batter
of the cortisol
passed down to my young body,
intergenerational. It’s an over a century-old fight,
The enemy is kilometers away, the headlines warn,
Whoever has Shushi, has Artsakh.
Long and heavy, the words walk strident
upon our ears. I hear my father’s wired heart
pulsate with such wistful rhythm all the way
from my room.
I can hear the layers being peeled off
his skin. I know there are bruises.
Look well and you, too, will see the gaps
in our cushions- flattened
from all the sitting flustered and sinking
into whatever earthly body we find and think prepared
to shoulder this weight
being distilled into our shoulders,
I notice this all because I am the youngest
of three. I have spent
years in observance of
how life unravels in houses of descendants of
chased away from homeland.
And, but yet again, tasting this
very softening of the bones,
I think of my childhood,
a milking of cultures.
sprouting with a stalk trickling
potent, luscious Phoenician zest,
with leaves intuitively patterned
to emit a sillage of pomegranate scent.
(Perhaps I speak my Arabic a little broken
to remind myself
that it is my second language.)
In my home we have always gathered
in the living room
and let our flesh glisten only
only at the naming the praising of
our poets and artists on distant tongues
Father has taught us to clink our glasses twice
when the new year starts.
We have stitched the time difference
into our hearts.
What are your dreams? she had once asked-
my bird-like Armenian literature teacher
in high school.
I remember that woman like the taste of the holy water
She, a mother of two, had fled to Lebanon
in exile from Syria, her initial land of genocidal exile,
then left us in pursuit of Canada,
in exile from Lebanon.
What are your dreams? she had asked us when she first
To be a writer, I had said;
But, you must know, I write in the English language.
An undertone of disappointment had paused her gaze
on my face.
We grew closer than expected.
Before she migrated to Canada she came to me
with the words:
I hope your English sentences
will help the world understand.
Her existence yet hangs on a moving thread,
but she, as all fibers of my people, is
For our people vulnerability is not a chance.