Brainstorming Nakba

At curious four I asked my mother why Superman did not speak the same language I did

She told me that

Our cartoon hero is a little boy forever ten

His hands clasped behind his back, invisible handcuffs

She told me I had to learn another alphabet, another geography,

In the Big Yellow Atlas, for kids, full of pictures

We stenciled in your awkward shape into maps that didn’t even want you

We had to learn your name in their language
They told me I spoke funny.

So I rinsed my accent at school; madraseh instead of madrasa

I read about diaspora and exile and power structures

Without knowing what they meant

So you’re American? On paper

And Jordan? Is what I know

And Gaza? An old wives tale

We are bastard children of hyphens and supplements and sentences that start with

Originally I’m from…

At home,
Baba counted in dead bodies, in ratios, and for breakfast we had

Nostalgia and symbols

We read Kanafani, Darwiche and Said

When we found tongues

We learned to speak from the margins of pages,

From the periphery

Maybe this is Freud’s “oceanic feeling”.

A veritable storehouse in the unconscious

To be from a place and not know the place

There are simpler ways of being in the world, I’m told.

Still I choose Za3tar and Shatta and this awkward Fat7a.


Sawt al' Niswa



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