Sept 29 – Longing for Home

September 29, 2018– two poets — one Muslim, one Chaldean Catholic

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.”

Like many people I know around the U.S.,  I was mesmerized yesterday by the outpouring of stories, more often by women, often too by men, often told for the first time, of their abuse and the terror they have carried for many years.  Over the decades of my adult years,   friends and sometimes  women and men new to me risked telling me of wounds that needed a listener who would not use them as property.  Dr. Ford moved me deeply by risking her storytelling to a world of hearers.  This morning, the time I try to imagine what poem wants me to notice it and send it to the “Work Day, Hard Time” reader list, two poets came to mind.  Both have learned the wounds of the world as immigrant women. As I learn to make a home for Dr. Ford’s stories, it helps me to read Dunya Mikhail and Warsan Shire again, slowly and aloud.

Have a blest day.

John sj

p.s. Today our university begins Homecoming weekend.   Our presence in Detroit, a city of great beauty and many wounds has made a home for me for 37 years. I am looking forward to seeing alums and listening to some of their stories too.

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

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