Khalini Ahkilak (Let me tell you)

Three dancers on a large outdoor stage. Two male dancers, dressed in grey and black, flank a female dancer, dressed in black and red
Lajee Palestinian Dabka Dance Troupe / Photo by Tim Dennell / Flickr

I ask the olives to be gentle
for they’re weighing the branches down
as heavy as the stories Um Muhammad
carries on her tired shoulders.
                            Tell me about Palestine.

I say yes and hold on and let me tell you!

Falestin is holy. It is Gaza, Ramallah and Bethlehem. It is zaitun
branches, and kufeyyahs painted on the walls of the cities,
It is hot kunafa nabulsieh, and Um Samer’s kebbeh labanieh
It is a large pot of makloobeh and a victory to flip it whole.

Falestin is black and red thobe embroidered
by Um Abbas’s chipped fingers and tired eyes.
It is Isa Ibn Maryam’s birthplace.
It is the line of dabkah as the tabla gets louder.

Falestin exists no matter what the map tells you.
Al Quds is the heart of Falestin, no matter what they claim.
And to the land, one day, they will all return
in the bosoms of their mothers, on the soil of their land.

Nour Al Ghraowi is a Syrian writer, activist, and educator. She has received an MFA in poetry at Texas State University. Her poetry and essay have appeared in Dame Magazine, Poetry Magazine, Mizna Literary Journal, Porter House Review and others. Nour writes about social justice, migrant identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in a place far from home, and finally she writes about feminism and what it means to be a feminist Middle Eastern woman.