[ summer / winter ] is the worst time to lose a [ country / lover ]

Poetry / George Abraham

after Joy Harjo

yes, that was me you saw unraveling in the snowfall that mid-February night: teardrop crystalizing on phone glass; snow’s emptiness mimicking the negative of me;

yes, it was angelic, almost: how under the right stratosphere, water becomes memory of body but never the grief it cradled—

you were inside with the others, perhaps, drunk off your own sweat, learning the shape of an unfamiliar body; a warmth to colonize & become—

or maybe you were a vague acquaintance, who on another day, would have stopped and asked if i needed a hug: a simple touch to take the world away—

yes, that was me you saw bleeding into a kuffiyah the summer i lost a country. that was my voice, bursting through your speakers at the vigil; the liberal zionists crying as the other Palestinian boy lists off the friends & family lost in the massacre—

yes, that was me you heard at that ivory tower reception, ranting into a microphone about colonization, and my body, and the colonization of my body. did i ruin your dinner conversation? i sure hope i didn’t disturb your evening by existing—

that was me you heard quivering in the shower at 3 AM, midsummer; water dancing across body, musicless, shedding its bloodied petals—
yes, he entered my ill-defined borders;
yes, he made a country of me;
yes, he was mine for the taking.

yes, that was me you saw on the ledge of that 3rd floor dorm room window. my legs, dangling over the edge icicles melting above you, the brief moment before the collapse.

it would have been such a spectacle: you, stone-shocked & frigid, silent as a gargoyle, succumbing to the wind like a fallen angel—

yes, that was me you saw praying at the back of that funeral procession; my family, small & hollow before their christ, silent as falling petals; as the rose i kissed & let go as they lowered Her body into the earth—

yes, She taught me how to laugh, even at funerals: to exist loudly, even when grief out-weighs the clouds above us—

that was me you saw dancing that night, drunk & faded with my cellphone off, not thinking of the calls i’d miss, nor the ways my body failed me in that moment: not even my own sweat remembered my name—

or how much of me was lost in a language i did not have—

No. She didn’t make it home. Her mother crying through the snow & thick phone static.

George Abraham is a Palestinian-American Poet, Activist, and Engineering PhD Candidate at Harvard University. He is the author of two chapbooks: al youm (the Atlas Review, 2017), and the specimen’s apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, forthcoming in 2019). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Vinyl, Apogee, Kweli, Anomalous Press (f.k.a. Drunken Boat), Hawai’i Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry 2016, Nepantla, and the Ghassan Kanafani Palestinian Literature Anthology.