Voulette Hattar

when they ask me where does your love come from, i say

when they ask me whose blood

spills through the red in my eyes

i ask them have you read today’s headlines

and woke up fifty five bodies


when they ask me why i’ve set fire

to the the salt in my sweat

i ask them how many massacres

do we have to live through

before our families can return home

and call it


when they ask me where does your love come from

i say:

love as in holding hands

as in armed

as in armed


as in

my love comes from

the tip of leila khaled’s gun

the corner of rasmea odeh’s jail cell

my love comes from the remembering

from mama dancing to fayrouz only in the mornings

نسم علينا الهوى ياهوى  خذني على بلادي

my love comes from fayrouz begging the wind to take her home

greeting love as if it is wind

my love comes from wind

as in the wind that takes me home

from baba singing umm kalthoum only when showering

قد ايه من عمري قبلك راح

my love comes from umm kalthoum telling him she has lost too much before loving him

greeting love as if it is loss

my love comes from loss

as in the loss that takes me home

before you ask me where my love comes from

first you have to ask me what kind

and i will tell you love means 11 different things in arabic

meaning i cant answer in english

meaning i dont have the language to love yet

i only know the arabic word for hob

and i always mistake it for harb

and aren’t i bint imme,

always mistaking love for war

before you ask me where my love comes from

first you have to ask me where I come from

and i will point at my mother

and my grandmother

at all my mothers

i come from a long line of

—–tracing deserts with toes that have known no home but the stars

        —–hearts split down the jordan river, down a wall that spells out hate in cement

from somewhere my grandmother walks

(only at night)

(only in dreams)

looking for——-stars

to call————home

finding only one

sewed in blue

with the bruised skin

of the dead———–

when i hold my grandparents hands

i notice their toes

how they ache for something


i see them

(only at night)

(only in dreams)

following maps hidden in the bends of their bodies

to ground taken from beneath their toes,

ground that opens its arms

kisses them, on both cheeks, like an old 3amto

—-haven’t seen her in a while—-

embeds itself in the space between their toes

—-like it doesn’t want to be left behind, again—-

whispers to the grooves in their skin

—-أهلاً و سهلاً

هذه الأ رض بيتكم

هذا السماء بيتكم—–

i wonder if the ocean that teases the shore at Yaffa

—-with tiny kisses, no commitment, only grazes, barely touching—

has watched the city burn

—–pulled apart and spit across its surface—

i wonder if it has noticed everything


—–missing between the street corners and grains of sand—-

does it remember how my grandparents’ toes feel on its skin?

does it reach through the soil and weep on my ancestor’s forgotten ashes?

does it know where my love comes from?

when it asks me, and i know it will

i will say

my love comes from

there `

beyond the wall

underneath the cobblestone

before the blue star sewed itself into the sky


the womb of lost land and buried safety

—tears sweat strength wisdom—

i come from

dirty toes—–aching for something else

——begging the ocean to care

——searching for stars and ash in the soil

——digging into new dirt

——always remembering—— home——

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 5.10.05 PMVoulette Hattar is a second year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Social Welfare, Ethnic Studies, and Arabic. Born in Amman, Jordan and raised between eight different homes from Michigan to California, she is a board member and organizer with UC Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine, an intern with Friends of Sabeel North America, and a finalist for Palestinian Youth Movement’s Ghassan Kanafani’s 2018 Writing Scholarship. She loves to write and perform poetry and is dedicated to organizing because of and for the Palestinian women that have come before her, trying to honor their strength through her words and work, as a means to speak with them, as a means to fight with them, as a means to crawl out from the silences they have been forced to swallow for generations. 

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