Remi Kanazi

Nakba





she was scared

seven months pregnant

guns pointed at temples

tears dropping

stomach cusped

back bent

dirt pathways

leading to

dispossession

 

rocking boats

waves crashing

people rushing

falling over each other

packing into small spaces

like memories

 

her home

mandated

occupied

cleansed

conquered

 

terrorizers

sat on hills

sniping children

neighbors fled

on April 10

word came

of massacre

 

didn’t fight

didn’t leave

shells and bombs

bursting in air

like anthems

 

prayed for the dead

with priests and imams

prayed for the living

looking over shoulders

for the Irgun and Haganah

 

a warrior

raised life

planted trees

painted fruit

cared for the road

as if it was her garden

 

orphaned twice

after birth

from Palestine

whispered Yaffa

till final breath

never knew essence

until she found

emptiness

 

48 ways to flee

and she found Beirut

bullet holes in buildings

reminder of home

but not home

 

years later

daughters sat

on hills in the South

dreaming of breaking

water never touched

 

thinking of their mother

that warrior

how battles still

raged here and abroad

 

orchards flourished

propagandists called

them barren

land expropriated

for Europeans

thirsting for

territory

 

colonist

nonnative

not from here

plant flags, call it home

rename cities and villages

uprooting graveyards

wiping/clearing/cleansing

memory that this

is not theirs

 

passed away

August 22, 2009

frail hands shook

lip trembled

didn’t want to die

but suffered decades

 

she spoke in fading Arabic

broken English

wounded words

and murmurs

her eyes closed

but every so often

they blinked brilliance

memories that could not

be erased, uprooted

or cleansed

 

she had not forgotten

we have not forgotten

we will not forget

veins like roots

of olive trees

 

we will return

that is not a threat

not a wish

a hope

or a dream

but a promise



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Remi Kanazi is a poet, writer, and organizer based in New York City. He is the author of the new released collection of poetry Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up from Brooklyn to Palestine. He is also the author of Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine (RoR Publishing, 2011) and the editor of Poets For Palestine (Al Jisser Group, 2008). His political commentary has been featured by news outlets throughout the world including the New York Times, Salon, Al Jazeera English, and BBC Radio. He has appeared in the Palestine Festival of Literature as well as Poetry International. He is a Lannan Residency Fellow and is on the advisory committee for the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

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