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By Hala Alyan

You were mama’s; first and only boy, sable eyelashes long as an ostrich. Operatic, I claimed baba, his books and his sulk, first of the unrequited loves. What we took we took unasked.

Between us, staticky, fast, our song on the radio during the war.

Brother, I know your smoke, your quiet, how we disobeyed everyone by staying out, red-eyed, cajoling the jukebox one more, one more on a bad dollar. The wine I drank found its way to your stomach. When you fevered I burnt.

Archeologists, sifting the frame of twenty-six houses, half a dozen countries, the Arabic that’ll never belong to us. One long laundry list we commit to memory only to forget again, calling each other
from American coasts at midnight with urgent questions: ghadab is feda’ is thawra.

On trips home, we filled cheap suitcases with Persian silk, jars of pickled olives, translated Qurans.

No grandmothers left to stop us.

Added: Friday, February 12, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Hala Alyan

Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in numerous journals including The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner and Columbia Poetry Review. She is the author of ATRIUM (Three Rooms Press), winner of the Arab American Book Award in Poetry, and FOUR CITIES (Black Lawrence Press). Her latest collection, HIJRA, was recently selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press.

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