By Nour Al Ghraowi

What if I was never here

أنا مغتربة 

I am displaced. 

If you search for me 

in history books, 

my name 

would be imperceptible. 

The historian knew I was here,

here I was  

when he said to me: 

once you leave the land

the land leaves you. 

Damascus’ soil no longer 

will recognize 

my foot prints. An outlander

It would say as if I 

wasn’t given 

birth to 

twenty minutes 

from the heart of the city,

and lived and loved 

and loved and lived

for 21 years. 

Once you leave, 

you are displaced. Misplaced 

إبحث عني

What brought me here?

Who am I? 

Where do I belong? I ask

myself every morning as I brush 

my brown locks and blink 

with eyes big, 

an inheritance of Syrian ancestors.

My blood is Damascene, but my body 

is lost.

Take me again and displace me

in the place I was first found, 

lose me between jasmine 

scented petals 

on a hot summer day.

I see July 

in Damascus, 

a sun so high 

I cannot reach.

Hot sellers squatting 

outside of their shops 

praying 

for a cool breeze 

يالله شو شوب   

and someone to bargain. 

Salam, to the passersby

اتفضل 

They invite you for a cup of tea

boiled with sugar to give it

the sweetness 

of the city. 

أهلا و سهلا، اتفضل حبيبي كيف فيني أخدمك؟ شرفتنا.

Nour Al Ghraowi is a Syrian writer, activist, and educator. She has received a BA in English Literature at The University of Texas at Austin and pursuing an MFA in poetry at Texas State University. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Dame Magazine, So To Speak journal, Mizna Literary Journal, Echo Literary Magazine, and Porter House Review.  Nour writes in hope of changing the Western view of the Middle East and the Arabic language that is often viewed as inimical. She also writes about Social Justice, migrant identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in an unwelcome place, and finally, she writes about feminism and what it means to be a feminist Middle Eastern woman. 

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