feb 7 – two poets — one Muslim, one Chaldean Catholic

Wednesday, February 7  –

Dunya Mikhail
“Yesterday, I lost a country”

Warsan Shire
“dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.”

Harsh news these past days brought to mind how much of my city I share with a large Muslim community and a large Chaldean community.  I’ve posted poems from both of these places in my home culture, including from these two poets.  One, Dunya Mikhail, I posted last December; the other, Warsan Shire, I posted the morning after the November 2016 election in the U.S.

Two poems breaks my ordinary rule for these posts.  You may want to spread their wisdom across this first week of February, the eve of Mardi Gras, the dawn of Lent.   Best to read each out loud, with pauses.

Have a blest day.


john sj


Today’s post # 1:  “I Was in a Hurry”  –    Dunya Mikhail

Yesterday I lost a country.
I was in a hurry,
and didn’t notice when it fell from me
like a broken branch from a forgetful tree.

Please, if anyone passes by
and stumbles across it,
perhaps in a suitcase
open to the sky,
or engraved on a rock
like a gaping wound,
or wrapped
in the blankets of emigrants,
or canceled
like a losing lottery ticket,
or helplessly forgotten
in Purgatory,
or rushing forward without a goal
like the questions of children,
or rising with the smoke of war,
or rolling in a helmet on the sand,
or stolen in Ali Baba’s jar,
or disguised in the uniform of a policeman
who stirred up the prisoners
and fled,
or squatting in the mind of a woman
who tries to smile,
or scattered like the dreams
of new immigrants in America.

If anyone stumbles across it,
return it to me, please.
Please return it, sir.
Please return it, madam.
It is my country…
I was in a hurry
when I lost it yesterday.

“I Was in a Hurry” by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Elizabeth Winslow, from The War Works Hard

1965 – Baghdad, Iraq – lives in metro Detroit


Today’s post # 2   “what they did yesterday afternoon”

they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night

i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

1988 – Born in Kenya to Somali parents

Warsan Shire

This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.