Ila al watan / To the land


This poem was inspired by this topographic map of Palestine that shows Palestinians' exodus routes during the 1948 mass forced displacement known as the Nakba. Source: The Birzeit University Digital Palestinian Archive

After Aracelis Girmay's poem "To the sea"

Be intimate for me:
show me how your terrains became
stolen Palestine

despite all the signs
and all the language
and all the names of cities and villages,

and historical design
amassed atop of your
terrestrial divine.

Tell me about the sizzle in the soil:
hind legs pushing through mud and stone.
Be open with me

about where I come from
and the earth which I have not met
and how resistance made water

despite the chokehold
of European military garb
and the metal grey

of checkpoints and barricades
disfiguring your landscape.
Be intimate for me:

with the shadowed sun,
let a silver crescent follow
so we can look where the colonist

after it pillages and plunders
hides the Indigenous
erecting atop statues

of founding fathers:
orchestrators of genocide.
Summon your rage!

Exhume the separation wall
and settlements
dissecting your holy.

Burn with wildfire
the evergreen trees grown to suffocate
your native foliage and umbrage.

Let the smoke stoke the cactus leather.
Release the sap and nectar
of za3tar, and meramiyeh, and na3naa3.

Get messy with the horns of thunder.
Sing with the Palestinian sunbird and the Hudhud.
Shave off the palm tusks and explode the hills

of oranges and plums, so we can mark
where the disappeared were kidnapped
and the abducted were devoured.

Be the chaos and the slumber
of the Mediterranean tide. Tell the fish
to emanate the scent of a sea besieged.

Breathe deep the petals of poppy seed
and iris flower, and the debris off the trails
of your martyred mass graves.

And you,
                You come from the earth too
And will return to it,

Speak the truth
for a Palestine
free of European
invasion and colonial


*This poem was the winner of the photography category of our 13th annual Writing in the Margins contest, judged by Juliane Okot Bitek. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) for this year’s contest. 

Sarrah Ghadeer Malek is a Palestinian writer and spoken word poet living in Tkaronto, Canada. She writes on colonization and resistance using creative performance and magical realism. She is co-editor of Min Fami: Arab Feminist Reflections on Space, Identity and Resistance.

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