Rasha Abdulhadi


Rasha Abdulhadi


If the robotic dragonflies keep multiplying, we will never have peace.
Just this week another one crashed in the desert.
We are [un]lucky, they are lucky, it did not
crash into the farm fields or homes near the desert.
Because, remember children, the desert ends
and there are people who live at that edge.

If this deadening peace continues, the dragonflies
will become bees and the bees become fleas
and we will all be picking off the ticks of surveillance
or, once bit we'll get resigned like someone with Lyme
disease to the harrowing spirochetes of symptoms.
We'll ignore the corkscrew that is boring into our knees
into our every communication with those we befriend.

Once the dragonfly lands on my hand and becomes my phone
I'm lost. I've lost dyke, dam, and levee to the global flood
of positions. I've given away the patent of myself
in a hundred casual end-user agreements. After I click yes,
there will be peace at last and no more pop-ups.
Then I can call my mother to confess I love her, 
Then I can upload the post plus picture, perfect quipture
that will waterfall hearts and minds and then we'll all
know true peace. But first, the app needs my location.

Once the last peace treaty is signed, there'll be no more land
to light on and only the dragonfly will be waived through
at the Rafah crossing. There will be no children
to chase the bees and birds with nets or pebbles
and no more houses that were so hard to see through
without infrared. They will be rubble. And I wonder then, 
will the dragonfly finally lose its eyes--when we are gone gone gone
and there is no-one left to spy on anymore. 



attini a-nay wa ghani- 
bring me the flute and
sing to me now, o sisters of my father- 
i take shelter in the rose of damascus
ward a-shams, the taste of the language in my mouth like a meal- 
how i could not cook the old recipes until i could say the words, 
how more words came to me, in floods, in trickles, 
links in a chain, twists in a rope
the twists in a silken thread
red on the brocade of a young girl's dress- 
ayn al-bukara, the eye of the cow, the moon over bethlehem, 
the windmill in long rows done by hand without a grid or guide or pattern, 
the chicken's feet border, the roosters
on each shoulder, a lily for purity at the neck
where the thob opens, where the crocheted ties are with clover leaf at the end
the chevron and cedars of gaza like a necklace-

sing to me now, sisters of my sitti- 
women i will never meet even in pictures or stories
my aunts and girl-cousins who would teach me the dances before weddings
at the party of the brides, women dancing together, cheering on women, 
the memory sweet and fresh like a date in the desert of my mind. 
here i am parched. 
a refugee's talent is to make friends wherever she goes. 
a refugee's fate is to keep wandering always, always making new friends, 
always finding herself in someone else's home. 
i apologize, i try to watch closely for the rules, 
each house a new regime, each cohort of friends a new camp to survive. 

sing to me now, mother of my heart
in your true voice so purely country and southern-
how you sang out so freely your few words of old speech, hayk filaheen
you cross the world to be a country woman again, 
barefoot with a scarf on your hair. 
find now a new life, one that is your own, 
find your children in the very act of losing them
to history, to geography, to their own silvering hair. 

sing to me now, so that wherever i pass, 
i can thread my certainty on the sound of the family names, 
the villages and farms where you knew trees and their individual personalities- 
give me hope, fill me with strength to make one day a home
that will be my own. give me a window on the world
in which i can live and burn, a candle lit, 
a message to all who pass this way, a song that sings: 
come home. rest here. taste this. dance. 
ghani, sing.

Rasha Abdulhadi grew up between Damascus and rural south Georgia and cut her teeth organizing on the southsides of Chicago and Atlanta. She is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers, Alternate ROOTS, and a 2017 Poetry Foundation Incubator fellow. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Mslexia, Mizna, Room, and at sinnerscreek.com. She is a contributor to the forthcoming anthology, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (Twelfth Planet Press 2017). Her first chapbook Shell Houses is available from The Head & The Hand Press.