Today marks my 14th year of posting a daily poem during April in honor of National Poetry Month, and I’m very lucky that the wonderfully talented Kristina Closs will be collaborating with me again to illustrate the poems, a new tradition that now feels vital to this month’s tradition.
My first choice this month is by the Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha from his debut collection, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear. I could fill this introduction with a litany of all the things that have caused me and so many of us intense heartache in this year alone, but I am choosing to begin this April with a small living reminder of hope, from Mosab’s hometown of Gaza to wherever you find yourself reading this today. Here’s to the roses among the ruins, and to the poems that help us see both.
A Rose Shoulders Up
Don’t ever be surprised to see a rose shoulder up among the ruins of the house: This is how we survived.
I think of these words by the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) all the time, and I cannot help but share them again with all of you today.
“Think of Others”
As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon’s food).
As you wage your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you express yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: If only I were a candle in the dark).