An unnaming of tragedy in 3 parts (Poem)

(to Palestine and Syria)

2012-07-16-painting-إسماعيل-رفاعي

I.

Joints filled with fog, no way from here to bend them

Joints filled with fog, bending them

 

Fog bent.

Bones filled with fog, no way to lift them

So lift them.

But a request:

 

Please do not remember

for that requires being dis-membered,

and that seems far more painful than

simply being forgotten.

 

II.

Here are some words to commemorate something

Here are some words to represent your daughter’s sweet blood

Here are words that will represent unity through suffering

Here are words that are adequate stuff.

 

Good enough.

 

Here is a mediocre, worthy ode,

also named, “Unkind Prayers for the Faint of Heart”:

 

May “always” never know your name

And may “only” never know you intimately

Unless prefaced by the one and only “if”

Or maybe followed by “unless”. Amen.

 

But I confess:

 

My (your, our) exile is not graceful

3 years isn’t long enough to practice.

 

So here is an apology:

 

I’m sorry I am in love with summer rain when you demand I accept earthquakes

We (may I say we?)

are sorry for missing the taste of clementines

and clemency

and sticky fingers from peeling

(and stealing) figs from the yard.

(Those are the sweet type of commemorations

you like, right?)

We are sorry for aching knuckles from knocking,

Bleeding knuckles from knocking

No more knuckles from knocking.

 

We are sorry for missing fatigue

particular to our hills

We are sorry for missing pain

specific to our sun

We are sorry we are begging for our own pain.

We are sorry for too much proximity in history

We are sorry we illustrate too well

We are sorry that the universe likes patterns

and it is not forgiving.

We are sorry we are asking too much, too soon

We’ll show up in 66 years perhaps more articulate, more

convincing.

 

III.

But I wonder how it is ever possible to forget anything

when every limb

is an ode to a river or a tree,

every hand, finger, eyelash

a reminder of our selves,

(2 reminders, 10 reminders, 10 million reminders)

How can you forget your own fingers, your own hands?

But then,

how can anyone forget your hands?

 

(how can we forget that we don’t belong in these hands?)
Dumb chameleons,

Aliens with amnesia,

Cities with hands:
You are an inventory of traces and I mourn your repeated losses, but

we are our repeated losses
we are our repeated losses
we are our repeated losses
we are our repeated losses

 

Dumb chameleons,

Aliens with amnesia,

Cities without hands:
Your pain is in-coherent, as in, out-of-coherence, as in,

low on supply,

as in lacking cohesion, banned from cohesion,

as in, not adhesive, not co-hesive enough

 

you are in, within, drowning (in)coherence but

need better grammar.

 

(tongues here disintegrate

Because language wasn’t made for these

types of tragedies

But repeat after me with ripped mouths:

we are our repeated losses
we are our repeated losses
we are our repeated losses
we are our repeated losses).

-Shatha Al-Husseini

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

-Photo: The Book of The Martyr By Ismail Al Rifai.

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