Editor’s note: Amidst all the mischief, merriment and mirth, at Tweetspeak Poetry we’re in the business of becoming, and of helping people become who they really are. We pay attention, and sometimes we pick up on cues that tell us where a person might be dreaming to go. And sometimes when that happens, we issue a Poetry Dare. Recently, we challenged Sandra Heska King to a Follow Your Dream Dare. She continues her journey today.
The poet Mahmoud Darwish believed there needed to be a time gap between an event and the writing about it. My thoughts about this latest dare are like “cotton ginned by the wind.” Maybe I need a wider gap.
I’ve sat most of this past week in “A State of Siege, ” a long text found in The Butterfly’s Burden in which Darwish gave voice to the Israeli siege of Ramallah, his home (but not his home) in 2002, the year my oldest granddaughter was born. He called it, “a poet’s journal that deals with resisting the occupation through searching for beauty in poetics and beauty in nature. It was a way of resisting military violence through poetry. The victory of the permanent, the everlasting, the eternal, over the siege and the violence.”
Here, by the downslope of hills, facing the sunset
and time’s muzzle,
near gardens with severed shadows,
we do what the prisoners do,
and what the unemployed do;
we nurture hope.
Last night I glanced across the field toward my daughter’s house to see if her lights were on. It’s still my habit, even though for almost four months the house has existed only as a burned-out, soot-filled shell, the insides an eerie nether world where time stands still. My throat catches every time, like choking on a whole orange, when I remember the billowing smoke and flames that exploded through the window like a bomb. I feel my leaden feet as I tried to run toward it, making slow forward progress, like in a dream, not knowing if my family had escaped. It was a hidden enemy, lurking behind the walls, that displaced my daughter. I’ve never asked if she saw the sunrise that morning from her deck. We wonder if she’ll see the sun rise from that vantage point again.
Life in its entirety,
Life with its shortcomings,
Hosts neighboring stars
That are timeless …
And immigrant clouds
That are placeless.
And life here wonders:
How do we bring it back to life!
A three-year old Kurdish boy washed up on a Turkish beach last week after his family attempted to flee the violence of his home and start a new life. Only his father survived. He said, “Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to sit beside my children until I die.”
My lord … my lord! Why have you forsaken me
While I’m still a child … and you haven’t tested me yet?
Raging fires drive families from their homes. A tropical storm ravages a tiny island. The world can’t keep up with the migrant and refugee exodus. Journalists are ambushed on a light assignment; another school is on lockdown. I have no idea what it’s like to live in a war zone, though there’s a sniper shooting at cars on the highway my husband drives. I find myself searching for an exit or place of refuge when I’m in public. Some days I think the whole world’s gone violent, and I’ve grown cold. I shake my head and make homemade granola while others weep.
We store our sorrows in our jars, lest
the soldiers see them and celebrate the siege …
We store them for other seasons,
for a memory,
for something that might surprise us on the road.
But when life becomes normal
we’ll grieve like others over personal matters
that bigger headlines had kept hidden,
when we didn’t notice the hemorrhage of small wounds in us.
Tomorrow when the place heals
we’ll feel its side effects.
I make myself a another cup of coffee and carry it out to the yard. The trees are starting to change, but my boomerang lilac is blooming one last time. The soybeans are about ready for harvest, and my doctor just called to tell me the results of my biopsy were normal. Somewhere, someone just got the call that theirs wasn’t.
Our coffee cups. And birds. And the green trees
with blue shadows. And the sun leaping from
one wall to another like a gazelle …
and the water in clouds with endless shapes
in what is left to us of sky,
and other things of postponed memory
indicate this morning is strong and beautiful,
and that we are eternity’s guests.
I’m pretty sure I’d never have read Mahmoud Darwish had I not been dared. But living with his words has been like lying on warm sand and letting waves wash over me, like watching the endless-shaping clouds float over my head, like inhaling the scent of lilacs in the fall. One thing he’s taught me is that we are all the same in so many ways, that we are two in one, that…
“Me or him”
that’s how war starts. But
it ends in an awkward stance:
“Me and him.”
Read the first dispatch from Sandra’s Darwish Poetry Dare
Browse other Poetry Dare adventures
Read a Poem a Day
Could you use a little dreamy inspiration? Join Sandra in this Poetry Dare. Read a little Darwish each day and share your own dream poems in the comments.
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