I pray that when I am gone, my people speak as sweetly of me as I do of them

Dear readers, friends,

We find ourselves at the end of National Poetry Month once again. Thank you for joining me on this verse-filled journey; I hope you found some words and images that spoke to you along the way.

Special thanks to Kristina Closs, who brought a whole other layer to the poems with her illustrations–and always helped me see the poems in new ways. If you enjoyed her work, please visit her website, where you can purchase prints (including the ones inspired by this month’s poetry!)–or contact her for custom commissions, which she will gladly work on with you.

The final poem I’d like to share with you this April, which is not only National Poetry Month but also Arab American Heritage Month, is by the Palestinian American poet Tariq Luthun. This is a poem I feel in my bones–the home Kristina drew into the illustration is actually a rendering of what was once my great grandparent’s home in Tulkarm, a Palestinian city in the West Bank. Here’s to a day when everyone has a home for the tea to settle, a haven for the mint to steep.

an illustration of a house in Palestine surrounded by mint leaves with landscape in the back
Art by Kristina Closs


Today, my mouth fell
wide when I saw the light
slip into the hills, and those boys

I grew up with did not
come back. Or, so I hear. Mama
would often ask me to gather

the mint leaves from behind our home,
and so I would leave for this
nectar – without it, there is nothing sweet

to speak of. I pray that
when I am gone, my people speak
as sweetly of me as I do of them.

I see us, often, steeped
in the land and hope that
a shore remains

a shore – not a place to become
yesterday. The girls have joined the boys
now – all of them

tucked just beyond
the earth. But I know they wouldn’t run
from their mothers – not without a fight,

a chase, a hunt, a honey, a home
for the tea to settle; a haven
for us to return to.

from How the Water Holds Me


My loves, you are the only people I’d surrender my softness to.

an illustrated of the moon with many bright rings around it illuminating a dark seascape with shells
Art by Kristina Closs


By Noor Hindi

Edgewater Beach, 2019
for Kevin

The night, so warm I could fall in love
with anything
including myself. My loves, you are the only people
I’d surrender my softness to.
The moon so blue. What’s gold
is gold. What’s real
is us despite
a country so grieved, so woke, so deathly.
Our gloom as loud as shells.
Listen. Even the ocean begs.
Put your hands in the sand, my friend.
It’s best we bury ourselves.
What’s heavy. What’s heavy?
Becomes light.

from Dear God. Dear Bones. Dear Yellow

The air smelled of burning clementine groves.








From Hijra, by the Palestinian American poet, author, and clinical psychologist Hala Alyan (1986-).


Sit and I’ll tell you of my father’s prayer rug,
dark as plums with yellow borders,

borders like the map we ate, grit tangled
between our teeth, the years swelling

like one hundred arrows. Here,
have some stew, taste June in the steam.

Did I tell you about the name we bore
like armor, the earth they spat up

with fishbone? After they planted copper
in our eyes, we went on planting suns over

the graves. The air smelled of
burning clementine groves. We fed

our daughters until they grew
redwoods and oak trees instead of hearts,

the fever we took from the land when
our ribs turned into compasses.