By Uzma Falak
My grandmother wove dreams on her spinning wheel,
invoked you in her songs.
I memorized the rhyme.
My mother treasured your olives—
a keepsake of the Blessed Land,
a relic I never touched.
At four years of age
I learnt to sing you like a rhyme
in unison with my homeland’s name.
Beyond fortified towers
a stutter of longing
made language porous.
My heart quivers like a wounded sparrow
I murmur Palestine Kashmir
yearning for Justice,
rocking history’s cradle.
As your olives dreams vanished,
towns, burning, soared to heaven
my apple orchards were occupied,
my valley invaded. How does one count
yearning: decades epochs eons, what traverses
when an hour passes, or a minute-hand moves?
Metrology is laughable, memory isn’t:
a child’s shoe, her only trace found
under the bombed rubble of her home.
My lips tremble. In my heart hope settles
as ash of gutted seasons, falling like snow
on our similar topographies
in Gaza and GawKadal
in Haifa and Handwor
in Sair and Sopore.
In dreams dead children console me:
a nation is beyond a country
a country beyond a nation.
They smear ripe olives on their faces.
“Search for us,” they sigh, “if we don’t return?”
A rainbow trembles on my eyelids.
I read their letters from heaven,
disentangling my hair
scented with irises from your garden.
My fingers paint us on maps
– Uzma Falak is a native of Kashmir who blogs for Oxford-based New Internationalist. Her poetry has been featured in Electronic Intifada, The Palestine Chronicle, Kafila, Kindle Magazine, and Cultural Anthropology. She contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com.