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Sonia Nettnin: Al-Nakba - The Catastrophe (Part 1)

Al-Nakba: The Catastrophe Part I

by Sonia Nettnin

of Palestine
burn the soul, like
fire skies
where dove wings soar
ancestral winds. Sing
times alive debkeh
footsteps, Arabiyya
song. Rhythms in

Old city Jerusalem! Colors
tomatoes/banadoova burst apricots/mish
mish, mangoes/mangoos roll
box carts, stand sellers on sand
streets sandals alongside
stone houses; clay jars
line windowsills faces
smiles wrap shawls around

Shoulders hold
hands cup water from
alabaster vases – glaze
lips into kisses, eyelids
caress sacred ground. Fingers
sift sinuous lines calligraphy
on leaves dry papyri, soak
linen threads, sew rainbow
embroidery. Crimson
patterns crossover

Tell stories about
families whose honor is
gatherings. Hummus
tahini, parsley/buquunis
sprinkles, koubideh
green peppers, skewer squash/kuusa
shish kabob, baba ghannouj, salt
shakers sumac powder
tongues turn yellow seasons
taste buds for

Baklava, cardamom syrup on top! Before
cheeks touch, flow memories stir
honey eyes glisten, tea sips eye-
lashes lemon/limuun wedges into
conversation’s embrace. Sugar
hugs for children until
eternity…play games
on hands and knees be
a monster, tickle
tummies into laughter after
sunsets when prayers
from Abraham’s people
hover above

Almond trees, leaves moonlight
into desire’s azure
twilight. Amid
fields, till around
tree saplings
into midday
under sycamore
shade lean
back and weave
straw baskets – sheathe
fruit/fuwaakik with baby
on back, journey home to

Villages of farmers. Kufiyehs
foreheads wipe sweat
before evening meal, wash
with olive soap. At night
light candles, caftan
covers hands lotus flowers, braid
jasmine into
wavy, henna hair. Savor
fresh basil into

Moon’s dawn
a pound
on the door
“Get up, get out!”
Gun shots, then screams
long knives “Your house
never, nevermore!” Grab
children crying, collect
knapsack belongings fumble
keys into
breast pockets, hold
hands, move with
thousands bodies into

Night’s fire. Smoke
plumes above
villages, raids terror
run or die. Stumble
on ground, Deir Yassin
soldiers slaughter
dozens children
for blood. On
neck stick prickly
pears, lie still
with hands cover
mouths. Hide
behind animals, tree
trunks bodies swathe
in mud

Think alive where
child, grandmother
husband? Wipe life
on chest never
forget or
forgotten, how
behind desert bushes
left last words in desert air. Tongues
lick salt
from starved rocks…
bend until

Body stands, pick pods
carobs, chew fennel until
legs move for
hope is resilient people: branches
but grow again
generations oud strums, beats
drums, women dance
in handmade dresses, stories
write, modern ostraka, turquoise
hand creations, clap
and ululate…Palestine’s babies
are rays of sun.


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