I’m shamelessly ripping off a deeply moving photo-poetry collage by Patrick McManus, one of my Facebook friends, which I came across in my online wanderings. The poem (full poem here) exquisitely echoes the photograph:
Abu Salma: We Will Return (1951)
Beloved Palestine, how do I sleep
while the spectrum of torture is in my eyes?
I purify the world with your name
and if your love did not tire me out,
I would’ve kept my feelings a secret.
The caravans of days pass and talk about
the conspiracy of enemies and friends
Beloved Palestine! How do I live
away from your plains and mounds?
One thing to keep in mind about this photo is that it could just as easily be Arab Jewish refugees or any refugee anywhere in the Middle East. But in this case, it is Palestinian Nakba refugees. And can we ignore the pathos, ignore the tenderness, ignore the sadness, ignore the injustice? Only at our peril.
Look at the face of this beautiful little girl. So pure. So attentive to her grandfather. What did this suffering do to her? What did she become? Where is she now? And when, if ever, will she return?
Thanks to reader, Rupa Shah, for her help providing biographical information on the poet.