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Letter from a Jewish person (this side of the screen)

A poem in memory of Hiba Abu Nada and Dr. Refaat Alareer

Middle EastWar ZonesHuman Rights

The Islamic University of Gaza after it was bombed by Israel in 2014. The university’s Gaza City campus was bombed again and its buildings totally destroyed on the night of October 10, 2023. Photo by Ashraf Amra.

This poem, submitted anonymously to Canadian Dimension, is dedicated to the memory of Hiba Abu Nada and Dr. Refaat Alareer. Abu Nada was a cherished figure in the Palestinian literary community and the author of the novel Oxygen is Not for the Dead, which won second place at the Sharjah Awards for Arab creativity in 2017. She was killed by an Israeli airstrike on October 20. Alareer was a poet, writer, literature professor, and activist. He was killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike, along with his brother, brother’s son, sister, and her three children, on December 6.

Moon falls in tears of ash
Over the Ancient City
Gathers in shrouds weeping
Vast apostrophes of clouds

But what can I do from here
Where swollen words jog along wounds

The child’s cry silent
Silent over waves of shares and likes she Pleads with the present and we copy …
Paste as blood spills over a mother’s pleas

Are ours

Confetti we offer these words
To a stratosphere of voices in font

Along a somber page where it takes
A kaleidoscope of languages to regale
What can we do … what can we do

The boy turns his face shaken
His brother at his side asks begs
Crying shivering begs crying … why
We watch as if we could

Turn back time
Rewind stop the genocide
The mother my children
Her children are ours

The Poet tells us the rockets
Burn the night skies that the kite flies
Its cloth of hope that there is a city in heaven
That this is where they’ll be tomorrow

The physician asks us how to move patients
In Herculean impossible through the rubble
The father cries for his children’s tomorrows
And I ask a page of people …

A page of bots and avatars

What can we do
What can we do

My cousin admonishes me
Tells me how to bend my weeping
To the only deserving provides formula
On how to weep and for whom

To remember what her own mother faced
During the war

To pull out the artery
Sever my humanity
My mother tells me please but I can’t
Stop speaking so she says she needs

To say goodnight as this same moon falls
Like ash tears over the Ancient City

Seas across screens across seas
Across …

A teacher kisses his daughter above her crib
Gifts her life lessons in meter
Ancestors inside stanzas as he’s gifted
To his students always to his students

That evening his breaths
Are quotation marks then hands in prayer
Embracing his daughter’s within
Both buried beneath with her mother
Lost in terror the families curl together
Underneath the rubble of this Ancient City

I wait for them to rise not in heaven
But on this solid land I wait
Not for the spring
But for now

Beyond this sky of words
The sun

But how is it even the moon
Looks tired?


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