Falasteeni by Samya Abu-Orf
I am Arab with no Arabic in my body
besides the name sewn into my clothes
I try to speak the sounds unfamiliar
and instead vomit a millennium of shame
I feel the distance between me and my homeland
further than my feet will ever carry me
an expanse the oceans couldn’t fill,
yet somehow roughly the length of my tongue
How close could I come
to a home never mine
if the word for whitewash
are terms without translation?
Will my Sitti still answer the door
if my mouth never learns to knock?
I have become
a pair of clogged ear drums,
hearing only the rhythms my tongue will never dance to
My teeth, piano ivories forever out of tune
It’s a unique type of pain
knowing I will never speak
the language that lines my father’s dreams,
a crime for which penance can never be paid
Can a culture die on my tongue?
Dare I utter its name
while it rots, here, buried in my throat?