FREEDOM

Nathalie Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, and recipient of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature 2011. Her latest book, Love and Strange Horses, was an Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Book Festival and the New England Book Festival. Her new collection, Poet in Andalucía,is forthcoming.

Nathalie Handal

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.

Originally published on

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