Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Arab Women Speak for Themselves


It so happens I am happy to be a daughter
and it happens that I dance into dinner parties and Arab concerts
dressed up, polished, like a pearl in
the tender hands of a diver
sliding on my path in a garden of olive trees and jasmine.

The scent of my mother sends me to a green orchard.
My only wish is to grow like seeds or trees,
my only wish is to see no more death, no poverty,
no more maimed, no drunks, no drugs.

It so happens that I am delighted
by my father's victories and his pride
and his brown eyes and his bald head.
It so happens he is happy to be my father.

And I'd feel lucky
if I attended my parents' 50th wedding anniversary
or conceived a child with dark curly hair.
It would be wonderful to free my country with honest talk
planting orange trees until I died of happiness.

I want to go on following the moon--
bright, silvery, secure with the light
casting jasmine into the bloody streets of Jerusalem,
blossoming every day.

I don't want to fall in a grave,
restless underneath the weight, a martyr for nothing,
dried-up, battling against the lies.

That's why my mother, when she greets me
with her outstretched arms gives me the moon,
and she runs through the arching streets of Gaza,
and stops to stare at the white minarets of the mosques,
planting seeds of green fruit.

And my father leads me to the Golden Dome of the Rock
into debates about survival
into gatherings where friends speak of a good past,
into houses that remind me of home
into a sunny shelter cradled like a baby nursing
from a beloved breast.

There are starving children, and homeless people
hovering in the polluted air that I hate.
There are malignant cysts
that should disappear from bodies and skin.
There are soldiers all over, and machine-guns, and tear gas.

I climb slowly with my moon, my roots, my dome,
remembering my parents,
I hike up, through the sloping hills and green orchards,
and gardens of olive trees smelling of jasmine
in which little white petals are growing.

-Deema Shehabi Khorsheed
from The Space Between Our Footsteps

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