Photographed by Dahlia Dandashi

Ode To Sham

I cried for three months straight.


I was wet and bored
With summer’s ubiquitous ghost
Haunting me at every dikeni
And every butcher shop.

Talkalakh — Homs — Damascus — Latakia.
I zigzagged from East to West, North to South,
But the heat of summer hitchhiked to each city!


I remember a young me,
Ironed out on streets of rubble.
The back of my body lay flat on the floor
Cracking and fussing
Like freshly cooked eggs.


Teta’s mailman lives underground now
Next door to the little boy neighbor
And to the left of my grandfather.

I remember the back of my legs
Kissing beaten and battered curbs
Making sweat into crystals before the end of the day.


Syria, will I kiss you again?
Syria, will I see your face again?

The Yard Sale

At the yard sale,
The foreigners eat our olives and wear our Hamsa hands.


We did not invite them.


Mama! All my cereal boxes! Have you seen them?
The man from next door is trying to eat my granola with some milk.

My hat! His daughter will sport it at the golf club.
I think they are rich.

Our stories! Everything I wrote,
All of jiddo’s clothes.


The bombs took it all. The fire stole it.

But it’s mine mama! They’re mine!


She says nothing is ours
Except our land
And a sense of belonging.

But even those are no longer ours.


Even the rubble will one day die
To be replaced by more of what was once ours
Or what I see now
Was actually never ours at all.

Boxes

We will never meet freedom.


It will never move into our neighborhood or become our friend
It will never invite us to dinner or lend us a helping hand

And yet, we keep praying to have it imported in boxes,
just to dream of sprinkling it on our coffee like morning dew.


What would it be like to wake up and not think,
“What would it be like?”

We will never know.


Freedom will forever come to our cedar trees packaged in plastic wrap and tape
And we’ll hide out behind our chalets and ancient ruins
Begging the God in our tobacco shops and churches
to deliver boxes that will never come.


Dahlia Dandashi is a Lebanese/Syrian-American creative content producer who was born in Houston, Texas but grew up in Dubai, UAE. Though she began her career as a writer and editor, she transitioned to freelance content production focusing on photography, creative direction, copywriting and social media management. She now works full-time as a social content producer at an agency in New York City. Her personal poetry, photography and projects often explore themes of identity, womanhood and the Arab culture.  

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