The Arab Revolt 2011

The story begins
with a song—
it’s stubborn,
breaks air
into history;
for a minute
it’s quiet
to allow everyone in,
and then it raises
to celebrate voices,
clears its throat,
says:
We will bury the smoke that blinds us,
plant our soul on every page,
we will divide our pain into towers
and fill our hands with rain,
we will arrive on time every day
to chase you away,
we will no longer be afraid
of what makes us shiver under the sun,
we will leave our names in every teahouse,
our messages at the bottom of every cup.

Light will no longer be illegal
nor will hope—
even the guards will count
the scars on their tongue
and prepare to heal,
even the children will keep
homeland in the mirror
and prepare to see,
even the women will turn
the fire inside the door
off, and prepare to live.

We will never whisper again.
There is evidence, there is evidence,
that now we can hear
the sounds that lift freedom
across a continent,
and say, Salaam to you,
welcome to my country.

 

Listen:

 

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal's most recent books include the flash collection The Republics, lauded as “one of the most inventive books by one of today’s most diverse writers” and winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award; the bestselling bilingual collection La estrella invisible / The Invisible Star; the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award, which The New York Times says is “a book that trembles with belonging (and longing).” Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, Centro Andaluz de las Letras Fellow, Fondazione di Venezia Fellow, and winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, among other honors. She is a professor at Columbia University, and writes two literary travel columns, The City and the Writer for Words without Borders and EAT: Everywhere a Tale for Popula.