Enough Time for a Ritual – A Poem

Palestinians carrying the coffin of Shireen Abu Akleh arrive at St. Joseph's Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem. (Photo: via WAFA)

By Khalil Simaan

The day will come

When we may mourn our dead.

Grieve our grief. Comfort one another.

And carry the coffin and the flag

In a solemn procession

Wafting like a light cloud

Along the bowing palm trees

And the cooing white pigeons.

And no one will stand in the way

Of the dead.

No one will harass the casket

Nor the dead

No one will deny the dead

Her nightly ritual

She may take off the makeup and the paint

For the last time.

And sooth her painful body with balm

For the last time.

And comb out her hair

For the last time.

And only when she is fully ready

She will

Leisurely

Dress herself with a nightgown

And lay her fractured head

To rest

On an earthly cushion.

And in her mind

The slain lamb

She might survey her busy calendar

And weep.

She might review the events

Of her final day

And weep.

She might remember the sorrowful faces

Of the devoted, grieving people

And weep.

She might simply weep

Because

She is given the extra time

To weep.

And, eventually

When she has consumed the last drop of life

She will finally fall asleep.

For the last time.

(In honor of Palestinian journalist Shereen Abu-Akleh, who was killed by the Israeli army in May 2022)

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