Type
Poetry

The Nasīb of Lujayn Hourani

 

The first half, the motherland: Tarshīha, District of Akkā

 

Shiḥa Jamaluddin flew*.

(ṭar shia.)

The legendary hero flew to the battlefield

fought the crusaders

and had a city named after him.

town

territory

land

By 1948 she is deserted, looted, not allotted to us.

 

Al sha‘b flew*.

(ar al sha‘b.)

The masses flew in flocks to safer land

and she is made naked.

One decade later,

she is dressed in new vesture brought in

from the east,         west,          and north.

 

They build her from the ground up,

from the rubble and branches up

(already 600 metres above sea level, they go even higher.)

 

Like a woman in marriage

she keeps her old name and adopts the new one, too

– hyphenating them like it means modernity.

 

*the imperfect conjugation of Arabic teer, to fly, is tar.

 

 

 

The second half, the fatherland: Ḥiṭṭīn, District of Ṣafad

 

The father didn’t make it out alive.

In the twelve-hundreds he homed the battle of the horns

in the sixteen-hundreds                    the ottomans

in 1948                                                the war

and that finally did it.

 

Think bountiful, and flourishing, and refreshing;

think olive trees, and fruit trees;

think figs in the summer and spring water flowing into wadis

(think about how these aren’t my thoughts

and haven’t been anyone’s for a while now.)

 

–      Evacuate the inhabitants

–      Occupy the town

–      Chase away the rāji‘ūn*

–      Extinguish the men

–                                 pack animals

–                                 reason to come back

 

Found new towns with new names

and like rock salt in the mortar wound

call old mosques heritage sights.

 

*literally translated as the returners.

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Lujayn Hourani is a Palestinian writer and online editor of The Lifted Brow. Their work has been published by Djed Press, Voiceworks, The Lifted Brow and Going Down Swinging.

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