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Picking up Rocks

By Rasha Abdulhadi

daughter of a palestinian that i am,
                                          when i see a bloc of young people holding the street
it seems i was born with a rock in my hand
                                           against a line of police in battle gear—
and i’ve found the world expects that’s who i am.
                                            i look down and find a rock in my hand.
i have been trying to put that rock down,
                                            i have tried to put it down every night
tried to set it down in stone mornings quarried—
                                            out of fear, nausea, and despair
but every afternoon the daily news puts it there
                                            that weight rolling along
on the shoulders of everyone i know,
                                            everyone on this train ride home and falling sometimes
so i keep picking up rocks and putting down stones

                                             in the shape of sanctuary,
one day maybe I'll have enough for a foundation
                                             where we can lay on shoulders a poultice of care
where we can pray, if that is possible anymore,
                                             or grieve, if we can remember what either are for
tonight my mourning is for baltimore:
                                             a friend out there, a woman I respect, says:
things are pretty bad right now, sis.
                                             what can we do but pick up pieces?
and you, if you do, should say a prayer of stone.




Listen as Rasha Abdulhadi reads "Picking up Rocks."

Added: Tuesday, January 8, 2019  /  Used with permission.
Rasha Abdulhadi
Photo by Dina Abdulhadi.

Rasha Abdulhadi is a queer Palestinian Southerner who grew up between Damascus, Syria and rural Georgia and cut their teeth organizing on the southsides of Chicago and Atlanta. Rasha's work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Plume, Mslexia, Mizna, Room, |tap| magazine, and is anthologized in Halal if You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019), Stoked Words (Capturing Fire, 2018), and the Hugo-nominated collection Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (Twelfth Planet Press, 2017). Rasha has received fellowships from The Poetry Foundation Emerging Poets Incubator and Maryland State Arts Council and is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers and Alternate ROOTS. Their first chapbook, Shell Houses, is available from The Head & The Hand Press. Rasha is Split This Rock's incoming Executive Director.

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