Migrant Earth

By Deema K. Shehabi

So tell me what you think of when the sky is ashen?
—Mahmoud Darwish

I could tell you that listening is made for the ashen sky,
and instead of the muezzin’s voice, which lingers
like weeping at dawn,
I hear my own desire, as I lay my lips against my mother’s cheek.

I kneel down beside her, recalling her pleas
the day she flung open the gates of her house
for children fleeing from tanks.

My mother is from Gaza, but what do I know of the migrant earth,
as I enter a Gazan rooftop and perform ablutions in the ashen
forehead of sky? As my soul journeys and wrinkles with homeland?

I could tell you that I parted with my mother at the country
of skin. In the dream,
my lips were bruised, her body was whole again, and we danced
naked in the street.

And no child understands absence past the softness
of palms.

As though it is praise in my father’s palms
as he washes my mother’s body in the final ritual.

As though it is God’s pulse that comes across
her face and disappears.

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