Ramadan Kareem to those of you who are observing this month. Here’s a poem from the late great Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008), whose words I grew up with and who has long been a touchstone of mine.
“And We Love Life”
And we love life if we find a way to it. We dance in between martyrs and raise a minaret for violet or palm trees.
We love life if we find a way to it. And we steal from the silkworm a thread to build a sky and fence in this departure.
We open the garden gate for the jasmine to go out as a beautiful day on the streets.
We love life if we find a way to it.
And we plant, where we settle, some fast growing plants, and harvest the dead. We play the flute like the color of the faraway, sketch over the dirt corridor a neigh. We write our names one stone at a time, O lightning make the night a bit clearer.
No incantations, no rosemary and statice, no keening women in grim dresses. No cauldrons, no candles, no hickory wands. No honey and chocolate, no sticky buns. No peonies and carnations, no handkerchiefs. No dark and lusty liaisons.
Only you and me to see it out. Sweet self, let me wash your toes, brush your hair, let me rock you gently. Together we’ll change the sheets and I’ll pull you to me, little spoon. You be the marrow, I’ll be the bone.
Thinking with a heavy heart of the Black lives tragically lost to racial injustice not just this weekend and during this turbulent past year but throughout history. Today I share a breathtaking poem in every sense of the word by Khadijah Queen.
“I Have a Method of Letting Go”
Asthmatic child in a house full of smokers, I crawled once under toxic clouds to find my mother
I was so brave I almost died, or desperate
I wanted her more than breath I was so small & she could sing anything alive, almost
She didn’t really know, doesn’t know now—
She is familiar with duty & made me so I can’t live on that loss
In 1977 a bullet turned my brother into dust His 18 years here, an invisible talisman we hold in our callous living
Sometimes I think my mother smoked to pretend to breathe him in