The first half, the motherland: Tarshīha, District of Akkā
Shiḥa Jamaluddin flew*.
The legendary hero flew to the battlefield
fought the crusaders
and had a city named after him.
By 1948 she is deserted, looted, not allotted to us.
Al sha‘b flew*.
(ṭar 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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