A Single Word: Home

Darwish Cento

Denuded of my name, of belonging,
childhood memories grow up in me,
one day following another.

In the deep horizon of my word
I have a moon
and it is as tiny as a sesame seed.

I have learned all the words needed
for a trial by blood. If I return one day,
take me for a kindling in your fire.

I am aged, a fog veils me,
facing the dusk and the cannon of time,
the fields of wheat, the white graves.

Free, I stand beside my freedom.
I am known to all the songs of rain,
all the prisons, all the borders.

I must be worthy of my mother’s tears.
For my name, I shall choose letters of azure,
the birds that chased after my palms.

What will we do before this death?
We are dust’s bygone neighbors.
You who stand in the doorways, come in!

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her first book, WATER & SALT (Red Hen Press), won the 2018 Washington State Book Award. Her chapbook, ARABS IN NEWSLAND, won the 2016 Two Sylvias Prize. Her poems have been award the Robert Watson Literary Prize and have received several Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Her new chapbook, LETTERS FROM THE INTERIOR, is published by Diode Editions.