The Jasmines of Homs (Poem)


Let me tell you about jasmines.
The Persian meaning of a jasmine is “a gift from God”;
a pure, white gift from God
whose scent slithers in the wind
and curls up in your heart.
The jasmine is the cousin you envy,
the one who got away from the olive tree
and grew beautiful, exotic, different.
I once asked my chemistry teacher about jasmines.
He looked at me bluntly and threw words
like carbonyl, acid, compound.
I sat perplexed,
wondering how one could crush beauty
and reduce it to numbers and chemical bonds.
I wondered if someone somewhere knew
they were bottling the scent of my home.

Let me tell you
about the jasmines of my home as I remember them.
I was born in Homs.
My mother was rushed past a jasmine tree
before I entered this world.
She stopped and reached out
to pluck that orb of white heaven
and gripped it while I was led here, crying and bare.
She held my hand and the jasmine she had plucked
pushed into the fine lines of my palms –
engrossing its scent into my skin.

My grandmother grew jasmines.
They wound up the walls of her home
and although those walls became cracked and grey,
the jasmines stitched them up like fine lace.
She would place one in my hair.
I felt radiant and until this day,
I can see her frail smile as she admired her artwork.
The stems of those jasmines have never left me
and I feel them, like angels
whispering on the tips of my ears.

(Day 679 of the besiegement of Homs)

Now, let me tell you
about the jasmines of my home as they are.
I have not seen my jasmines for a long time.
I have not felt their soothing glances
from behind the trees;
They used to grow stretched in the sun,
across the walls of Homs.
My jasmines are rotting, they are bled.
My jasmines are brown.
My jasmines cannot run away from murder,
tyranny, missiles,
the trod of fleeing feet.
They are there to starve as my people starve.
There to be crushed under the vultures
who used the jasmine trees
to pick my people out of their teeth.
We are not people
but statistics to the world;
The jasmines have fallen with us
and we have caused as much sound as they.

But my jasmines are what comforted me out of the womb.
And they are what keep me fighting,
keep me digging,
until all I see under the rubble of Homs
is the sunshine petals of my jasmines.
The jasmines of Homs are bleeding;
yet I continue to smell them…
I hold them with me wherever I go.

-Tala Ezedien

Tala Ezedien was born in Homs. She is an 18 year old university student currently in Montreal, Canada. She longs only to see her city once more, while it still exists.

Photo: Lens Young Homsi – Qarabies neighborhood in Homs, 21st February 2014


  1. Dara Dandashi says:

    My dearest cousin … Amazing like always …
    your Jasmines are waiting

  2. Absolutely beautiful writing

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