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Leaving My Childhood Home

By Zeina Azzam

On our last day in Beirut
with my ten years packed in a suitcase,
my best friend asked for a keepsake.
I found a little tin box
to give her, emptied of lemon drops,
that would hold memories of our childhood:
us swinging in the dusty school yard,
rooftop hide and seek,
wispy-sweet jasmine, kilos
of summertime figs, King
of Falafel’s tahini-bathed sandwiches,
our pastel autograph books.
All those remembrances
crammed in that box,
tiny storytellers waiting to speak.
Later her family would uproot too,
transplant like surly Palestinian weeds
pulled every few years.
We all knew about this,
even the kids.
I never saw her again
but know that she also
learned to travel lightly,
hauling empty boxes
pulsing with kilos
of memories.

Added: Friday, February 19, 2016  /  Used with permission. Azzam was a featured reader for Sunday Kind of Love as part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Festival 2016, in Washington D.C.
Zeina Azzam

Zeina Azzam is executive director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, the Palestine Center. She has worked in the fields of education and Middle East affairs for over thirty years, largely at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, and as editor of academic publications. Her articles have appeared in Jadaliyya, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera America, Calliope, and Social Education. Zeina’s poems have been published in Mizna, Sukoon Magazine, and the anthologies Gaza Unsilenced (Alareer and El-Haddad, eds.) and Yellow as Turmeric, Fragrant as Cloves (Fowler, ed.). She holds an M.A. in Arabic literature from Georgetown.

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