University of Hawai'i Press

“Write what you know …

I know that I am a Palestinian ….”

Write what you know …I know that I am a PalestinianI know that clichés reside in my rhetoricthat olive tree, that dove of peacethat Gandhi they preachall the talk about the steadfastness of refugees,this steadfastness is imposed on melike a curfew …And that rock that I threwit was because I was angryabout that young blue-eyed soliderwho told me in his American accent: “No entry!”

This refugee camp is like a swamp.Don’t want you to fix the water tapdon’t want you to fix the electricity gridI want this to end.And I don’t want you to use me as your sloganin the next conference you attend.

I don’t want to be a symbolnor consider a short visit to my besieged city symbolicnor cherish the key of my grandma for its symbolism …I don’t want to live in a memoryA story of a great tragedyA memory eroding by apathy, [End Page 538] I don’t want your bubbleDon’t throw your NGO money on the problemIt won’t go …You are safesave your dignitysave your ingenuity.Don’t talk to me about a featureless state,Look at my state.There’s a country I want to retake …

I don’t want to keep writing poetryinspired by dispossessed, imprisoned, oppressed museswho shed words to heal my bruises.

I want to see the sea for what it isand marvel the sunsetwithout a permit,without a time limit,without feeling that I am fulfilling a promise. [End Page 539]

Lina Hesham Alsharif

Lina Hesham AlSharif is an English literature graduate who lives in Qatar. She writes poetry and shares it on her blog, “Reflections on motherhood, motherland and poetry” (<>).

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