You, Residue Atlas (Poem)


You, Residue Atlas

I will steal your dreams and call them my nostalgia,

I will skin your skin and wear it as my own

and I will ask why you are bleeding.

What kind of revolutionary are you?

Your blood is not nearly red enough

and it’s getting everywhere.

Trust, sun.

I will dream your skin and flatten it like your stories,

wrap trees with it

spread it under grass carpets

wrap it around stones

where it will always be like an unravelling sweater,

and I will call it the warmth of solidarity.

What do you mean

you don’t know what it feels like

to have a million ants crawling up your skin?

Friend. Let me introduce you to my language.

Look how it flutters, flies, with such grace

Everything under its wingspan.

Look how it hovers in circles around you like vultures

already having decided your tongue’s fate.

Okay so tell me then:

Haven’t you ever felt like there is a wave of scattered showers inside of you,

or maybe a hurricane crashing against your bones, the walls of your flesh, flooding the caves between your wounds?

I’m sorry, am I too dramatic?

It’s just that

I worry that it might crash too hard one day and

peek through my skin

and I’d hate for my hurricane to be showing.

and I ask because

yours is.

Okay, question:

When you look at your body

do you see the maps etched across your skin?

all the ways away to from here to there

paths to unknown paths

trails towards light, once, twice, three times over please tell me

do you see maps etched across your skin?

Which border was there first?

Which scar represents entry

unto new land

So tell me which valleys in your skin represent the depth

of entry

of history

of loss

of a body

of water

What if instead of a map, your skin was actually a million strings?

What kind of songs would you sing instead?

-Shatha Al-Husseini is a Palestinian, Toronto-based artist, writer, and organizer. She tweets here.

-Photo: Untitled By Omar Al-Akhras.



  1. wow this is amazing!

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