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A Butterfly from Jisr al-Shoghour
By HALA MOHAMMED
The butterfly landed on my hand this morning
My only complaint is
The beauty of its colors
The blue sky did not rise
Neither did Hamza wake
The butterfly said: I am Turkish. . . and you?
The refugee said: I …
The butterfly said: how old are you?
The refugee girl said: I died seven days ago.
The butterfly said: where is your homeland?
The girl said: my home
The butterfly said: and your neighbors?
She said: the flowers in the fields of Jisr el-Shoghour.
The butterfly said: and your mother?
She looked around
At the white tents
At the void
At the light’s chill
…. At the coffin
A refugee is not entitled to history or geography
She grew older
Her hair turned white
To a land just beyond the border
With blue skies
And no boundaries
She spelled her name letter by letter
She kissed her name letter by letter
Kissed the bank of the river
And said: my mother is Syria
Translated from the Arabic by Basil Samara
The Arabic version of this poem appeared in As Safir newspaper