By Ramzy Baroud
When your grandfather deserted his horse
At the lower edge of the Pacific
My family’s steed was still grazing
By the southern hills of Palestine
Your Nakba started before mine
But mine is yet to end.
Your name is molded to mean many things
And signify nothing
Mine is ‘gun powder’
The bones of my ancestors keep the mountains of Galilee standing
My cousins are the ones holding the Gaza fort
Against the invading Khazars.
Our ruggedness might not suit your taste
But we inherited the language of the trees
So that the legacy of olives and figs may live through our children
Until we harvest the remaining citrus of Beit Daras
And redraw our music to rhyme with love and life
And everything in between.
I have to fight to preserve the essence of my name
And I mustn’t die – as of yet
Until my children are old enough to inherit their grandmother’s Thoub
And return to the very road between hope and exile
Looking for her childhood
Amid dying peasants.
So don’t talk to me about pain
For I plead at every border just to prove that my face in the photo is my face
And that my home exists between the port of Haifa and eternity
And the blood of my father was the same blood that drenched the skin of Jesus
After he was caught at a Roman military checkpoint
Hiding a poem about love
And a recipe for revolution.
And don’t talk to me about love
For mine are the roots of a thousand olive trees
And the echoes of the war songs of all the men of Jaffa
Before the last battle was lost to the brutes of the pitiless north
And all the love letters of refugee women
Sent to suspended men at crosses
Overlooking the Martyrs Graveyard
Bordering my house, and what remains of yours
I love you still
Because in your eyes I see my beginnings
And the promise that my assured passage into forgetfulness
.. will never end.
(Ramzy Baroud, Chile, Jan 10, 13 – Art: Ismail Shammout)