Photo by Anne Buiskool on Unsplash


My mother is calling at midnight again.
I’ve lost her house. I wore it under a dress. I wore it
six times into the new year. My mother wants to know
if she should leave. Her father is dying, her father
is Beirut and Akka and a single building in this world.
I don’t know where the chickens go when it snows.
I know he is dying. Yes. I know because he tells us:
also the X-rays, the flesh sinking into his bones.
Like what? A boat. A plank. My body displaces
water from the bathtub. I colonize. I toss fish bones
in the garden; so many birds pecking at the stems.
The building is on a mountain. Did I already say that?
There’s a metal gate that rolls over each window.
This is how we keep the moon out. Still, America got in.
Still, there’s a sign with his name out front. I won’t tell you
where it comes from. I won’t tell you what he sold for it.

Hala Alyan

Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, POETRY, and elsewhere. Her poetry collections have won the Arab American Book Award and the Crab Orchard Series, and her debut novel, Salt Houses, won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her second novel, The Arsonists’ City, was recently published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.