To See Life

Souk el Hamadya, Damascus, Syria

What you want is in my blood, another kind.
Weeping, I offer peace in my tears.
Inflamed, vellicated and distressed by the winters breeze,
I convulse and pulse to the darkness my imagination confronts.

Contoured in the bellowing echoes of death, I shadow my eyes with life.
My red lipstick feathers, it bleeds, without boundary.
Mascara runs over my silent, complacent tears.
Rosy cheeks blushed and flushed like the risen scar tissue on my arms.

Show me a great fear, a loss of mission. A loss of blood.
I only know death through yours, not mine… yet.
Is there an “after” to our Diaspora? This exile feels endless.
I wake up in a sweat, from a nightmare that we are three times displacement. I pray.

My carefree unconventionality has reached my heights, though clumsy.
Your height has risen my standards of love.
A love many may never see. I see you, my love.
I love you, too, my sisters, my khaltu, my khalu.

When I was 14 years old, I visited Damascus for the first time.
My first steps in Souk el Hamadya, I looked up to see the blue sky,
And instead saw a tin roof, a mile high above. A protection, a cover?
It was covered in bullet holes. I tried to count each punctured hole, but they were like the stars in the sky.
Too many to count.
I looked down on the dusty street beneath my feet, and could feel merciless death.
I am sorry, whoever you are.

My first encounter with death in Damascus.
I knew that the people who stood in my place before me, died beneath my privileged, pampered feet.
I could no longer see the life in and of the busiest market in Damascus.
I couldn’t see life.

But today… today, I see life.