Who Shall Remember How? Palestinian Poets Respond
By Sara Abou Rashed, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Jessica Abughattas, Deema K. Shehabi, Elizabeth MetzgerDecember 4, 2023
SARA ABOU RASHED
Against Content Warnings
I refuse to give
of a name.
If a word
LENA KHALAF TUFFAHA
The State of —
Noun gerund of the verb (to journey)
A setting out, a departure
A boy’s voice calls out from beneath what used to be
the second story of a house
I am here he cries can anyone hear me?
I am here and the night sky is sleeping on my chest
Noun gerund of the verb (to leave)
An exodus, a detachment
A father has gone in search of bread
A baker has gone in search of flour
A mother has gone in search of a cloud
A people have gone
A world in each of them
Noun gerund of the verb (to travel)
A parting, a demise
A girl steps on top of the walls of what used to be
the third story of a house
I am searching for the sea she cries
Has anyone seen it? It used to live in my window.
There is a part a past participle of me
at peace. In fifteen months live four places.
My love is a crag, a swamp, the depths.
A cave is dark and warm like my heart.
The heat swarms, won’t budge, won’t create a budget
for my heart which I dole out
in finite sums until I’m whole. My whole heart
isn’t interested in collecting interest.
Instead of a heart I carry a debt, a deficit
a deftness. I am a cavity for potential, a vial
of future substance. Sustenances. Sentences
I wrap around myself in chains
blocks, block chains, encrypted, inscribed,
indiscriminate spreading anger. Anger
has a motive, a number, anger has a dial
that winds, hums, releases like a spindle
like a spine unraveling, renaming, replacing,
placating. An absence of a spine is a job
an occupation. I vocate to purchase creature
comforts to make everyone
comfortable to make them see me
so they can see my worth it seems like I only
matter I’m only worth what I can sell
my time to sell the other workers it’s called hard
work and when it pays off, when the ticker
finally ticks my way, when they eat my
hair then I will be dead then
I will be totally preoccupied.
DEEMA K. SHEHABI
The city: a tightrope of eyes as we sat on a bench beneath a row of birches.
Before your confession: sandhill cranes skimmed the lake,
moss-colored in light. Years later, we are hiking in a valley chiming
with golden poppies in early April. Where does this gushing come from?
When clouds disrobe the hill near the mountain, it occurs to me to kiss
the rain off your mouth. How to say your answer pulled a song of our lost country
from my throat? Back home in the evening, we step into a garden where ropes
of wisteria hang at eye level, and I inventory all objects withering
from your half appetite: decaying peaches in green bowls, drawings of heritage oaks
giving way to parking lots, brownish bougainvillea in planters.
Define avoidance, you say half-jokingly. I turn away, eyelashes threshing the air.
Samia Halaby (b. 1936, Jerusalem) is a leading abstract painter and an influential scholar of Palestinian art. Although based in the United States since 1951, Halaby is recognized as a pioneer of contemporary abstraction in the Arab world. Halaby has been collected by international institutions since the 1970s, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art (New York and Abu Dhabi); Yale University Art Gallery; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art; Institut du Monde Arabe; and the British Museum.
Rosalind Nashashibi (b. 1973 in Croydon, United Kingdom) received her BA in painting from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield (UK), in 1995, after which she attended the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow (UK), where she received her MFA in 2000. As part of her master’s degree, Nashashibi participated in a three-month exchange program in Valencia, California (United States), at CalArts in 2000. Nashashibi became the first artist in residence at the National Gallery in London, after the program was reestablished in 2020. She was a Turner Prize nominee in 2017, and represented Scotland in the 52nd Venice Biennale. Her work has been included in Documenta 14, Manifesta 7, the Nordic Triennial, and Sharjah 10. She was the first woman to win the Beck’s Futures prize in 2003.
Featured image: Samia Halaby, Red Moon, 2015. Acrylic on linen canvas, 97 x 97 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery.
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