Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American writer, poet, and editor. She volunteers for organizations that promote Palestinian human rights and civil rights of vulnerable communities in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lives. Her political analysis essays and poetry appear in several online publications and literary journals and in five edited volumes. She holds an M.A. in Arabic literature from Georgetown University.
Leaving My Childhood Home
By Zeina AzzamAdded: 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.
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