From one stop.
To a final stop.
A Full stop.
In a sea.
Escape. Fire. Waves. War.
Dark. Shock. Chocked.
Drone. Black Hawk.
The interviewer thought that the frank answer was a herald of a long conversation that will result with some relief. However, she wasn’t feeling the same. She was thinking of the next question. She promised herself to answer. She promised herself to sincerely answer. She promised herself that she’d seek answers. She owes it to herself.
“Talk to me about motherhood..” the interviewer calmly said.
Her eyes opened wide like a window giving birth to strong light. She knew that this question was coming, but she also knew that she didn’t have an answer or she’s still doesn’t have a clear answer.
She took a deep breath that lasted long enough to reel back all the memories of her being a mother. She gave the interviewer a half-faced look, and said “do you want an answer, or you want poetry?!”
The interviewer said:” I want you to give me an answer that if you say it to others, they’ll judge you…”
She chocked a smile and said:” I don’t know what I think about motherhood, but I know that too much is expected from me…”
“I’m expected to trade my feelings for being a holy creature whose under feet there’s a heaven while I can only feel that under my feet there are toys, vomiting, and little hands clutching me”
“I’m expected to sacrifice my freedom to nurture someone’s else life with love and freedom…”
“Sometimes I wake up not wanting to sacrifice anything, not wanting to nurture anything. I just want to have some tea on the couch and enjoy some silence. And when I feel this way, guilt eats me up. And I feel inadequate not just to be a mother but a human being…”
“I don’t know…”
“I know that I love my kids, I know that I would anything to protect them and be there for them…”
“But…” the interviewer interrupted.
“But sometimes I wish I can just figure out who am I without shouldering this great responsibility…”
“guess that’s what motherhood is…”
“unconditioned sacrifice, responsibility, and patience, and those feelings are rarely done without a pinch exhaustion, frustration, doubt even boredom…”
“but these “negative” feelings are still outweighed by unconditioned sacrifice, responsibility, and patience…and love…”
“Everyday is like being on an uncharted island. You want to discover things to survive. But sometimes you step on some field on cactus and you get pricked. Sometimes, you find yourself in oasis where you find water and dates and feel just fine…”
The interviewer looked at her and said:” now that’s poetry.”
She chuckled and said:” and not good one”
Write what you know…
I know that I am a Palestinian,
I know that clichés reside in my rhetoric
That olive tree, that dove of peace
that Gandhi they preach
all the talk about the steadfastness of refugees,
this steadfastness is imposed on me
like a curfew…
and that rock that I threw
it was because I was angry
about that young blue-eyed solider
who told me in his American accent:” No entry!”
This refugee camp is like a swamp.
Don’t want you to fix the water tap,
don’t want you to fix electricity grid
I want this to end
And I don’t want you to use me as your slogan
in the next conference you attend
I don’t want to be a symbol,
nor consider a short visit to my besieged city symbolic
nor cherish the key of my grandma for its symbolism…
I don’t want to live in a memory
A story of a great tragedy
A memory eroding by apathy,
I don’t want your bubble,
Don’t throw your NGO money on the problem,
It won’t go…
You are safe
save your dignity,
save your ingenuity.
Don’t talk to me about a featureless state,
Look at my state,
There’s a country I want to retake…
I don’t want to keep writing poetry
inspired by dispossessed, imprisoned, oppressed muses
Who shed words to heal my bruises.
I want to see the sea for what it is
and marvel the sunset
without a permit,
without a time limit,
without feeling that I am fulfilling a promise.
This poem doesn’t rhyme
and loses the rhythm along this lines
This is an overflow of desensitized emotions
recollected in a moment of intensity, clarity.
A recollection of worthlessness
in a city, a shantytown, in a sweatshop, in a refugee camp,
life is raped;
barrels of dead,
tons of dead,
piles of dead,
life is stitched
It’s a recollection of dry, cracked lips
eyes paralyzed in rims
Figures identified with black pen
name, age written on foreheads
It’s a recollection of bones broken like twigs
thin skin, emaciated by hunger and thirst
like birds with amputated wings
The recollection of the self,
vacuumed into nothingness
consumed by everything,
deconstructed by narratives,
without beginnings, open ended…
A self that lost itself,
its faith in itself
She entered a café standing in the corner of a mall where she was expecting the interviewer. For a moment, she forgot her nervousness and she was marveling the details of that café. It felt that the place was thrown out from another era with its antique interior. She was seated on a chair that made her feel like an Elizabethan queen. Yet, this ball-like atmosphere was interrupted when the interviewer came. She struggled to tuck her anxiety with laborious smile. The interviewer sat, ordered water, and began the interview.
“I’m not here to judge you” said the interviewer. She looked around avoiding any eye contact. She thought this was supposed to alleviate the anxiety, but it didn’t.
The interviewer repeated:” I am not here to judge you. I am here to talk to you about your life.”
She shyly murmured: “ok…let’s start!”
“Do you love your child?” the interviewer darted the first question.
She looked around as if the question wasn’t for her. It took her a second, a heartbeat, and a thought before she said. “Yea, yes, of course…!”.
The interviewer looked at her while she was very anxious. She was angered by the question. How dared the interviewer to ask her such a question. Doesn’t the interviewer know a mother’s love to her child wasn’t doubtable, questionable?!
The interviewer said: “I am not here to judge you.”
Then she resorted herself and said: “yes, I do love my child, more than anything in the world”
The interviewer said: “but….”
She daringly said :” but …”
She continued saying:” if I said yes instantly, It would have been the answer of my instinct. But I thought, I felt, and I did doubt my yes…only to make sure that I give you the answer of my true self”
For Samir Issawi and all the Palestinian prisoners…
Skin striping the bones
to cover your nakedness
Water runs through throat
to save your hidden face, your shamelessness
Rub salt on this wound
to clean the stitches of weakness
Tailored dignity made from this
tattered brown clad
Iron chains only pin these hands
show the metal of this man
Rid yourselves from these flimsy rods
redeem the anguish of a mother sobs
reclaim the freedom of a land robbed
rewrite your history
on the prison walls,
Defeat your enemy
“The constants and variables of Gaza, then and now ” is a piece that I wrote was published last week on Al-Jazeera English web-site. It’s a comparison between the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09 and the recent one last month.
Gaza wakes up to a new dawn and a new day, blessed with fresh new hope. Gaza rises after a brutal eight-day Israeli assault, where, as usual, women, children and the elderly bore much of the loss. A ceasefire was announced on November 21 between the resistance and Israel, putting an end to Israel’s intensive bombing and the threat of ground invasion. Under this truce, Israel is obligated to stop targeted killings, stop cross-border incursions, and ease the movements of goods and people.
Full of destruction, mourning, and hope, Gaza woke up to a similar day four years ago after operation Cast Lead. Operation Cast Lead started with Israel targeting several sites in Gaza simultaneously, leaving more than 200 killed in one day. After a week of intensive bombardments, it started a ground operation that proved nothing but deadly to the civilian population.
Palestinians remained steadfast for 23 days without electricity and water. However, this time Israel’s “Pillars of Defence” was limited to larger scale bombings, though the targets were almost the same (infrastructure, civilian houses, empty lands, security compounds). Continue reading