Memory is the Cactus of Exile – A Poem

Ahmed Yassin draws on Cactus the story of Palestinian resistance. (Via Twitter)

By Aida Qasim

Why do you laugh like a giddy school girl in your mid life?
And why does your face rebel against the artist’s chisel?
Growing cactus in your garden rather than respectable hyacinth
Pining a first love
That keeps you up at night
A tempered indifference is more befitting of your years
Settle down and prepare for the autumn ahead
It’s time to pass the baton to those who can out run you


I have till the end of time
Not time for lounging around with Good housekeeping
Or breaking through the glass ceiling
Or for coffee with Oprah’s book of the month club
No time for dinner parties and 401ks
Or stale talk and buffets

I am hungry as a lover in the spring of romance
Restless as the winter before the last frost
Tenacious as the olive tree before the harvest
The fiery cactus in my belly that keeps me up at night
Is the birth pang of a new poem
Guarding me against forgetfulness

– Aida Qasim teaches Psychology and Social Work and is also completing her Doctorate in Social Work. She contributed this poem to

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