At curious four I asked my mother why Superman did not speak the same language I did
She told me that
Our cartoon hero is a little boy forever ten
His hands clasped behind his back, invisible handcuffs
She told me I had to learn another alphabet, another geography,
In the Big Yellow Atlas, for kids, full of pictures
We stenciled in your awkward shape into maps that didn’t even want you
We had to learn your name in their language
They told me I spoke funny.
So I rinsed my accent at school; madraseh instead of madrasa
I read about diaspora and exile and power structures
Without knowing what they meant
So you’re American? On paper
And Jordan? Is what I know
And Gaza? An old wives tale
We are bastard children of hyphens and supplements and sentences that start with
Originally I’m from…
Baba counted in dead bodies, in ratios, and for breakfast we had
Nostalgia and symbols
We read Kanafani, Darwiche and Said
When we found tongues
We learned to speak from the margins of pages,
From the periphery
Maybe this is Freud’s “oceanic feeling”.
A veritable storehouse in the unconscious
To be from a place and not know the place
There are simpler ways of being in the world, I’m told.
Still I choose Za3tar and Shatta and this awkward Fat7a.