Voice and Veil
"I do not write to be a poet.
I write to find out who I am."
-Tuqa (Age 22, Palestinian)
I’ve had a hundred names, a dozen families, met poets, writers, racists, inspired, liars, lovers of life, lovers of strife, faced sloth in my soul, seen the sincere and surreal, cursed beautiful sea breezes, cuddled scraggly dumpster cats, felt like algae scum and the rays of the sun, I’ve been a believer and atheist, prayed in mosques, churches, synagogues, houses, and trees. Meditated over mocha with genius, sipped strained tea alongside women with destiny, I’ve got bruises I can’t explain and gained an extra kilo in couscous. I made chocolate chip cookies in broken ovens in five countries, licked a cauldron of pine cone pudding clean. Sat on crashing seas at sunset and sunrise, trekked mountain peaks in the city and countryside.
I’ve got run-on sentences with incomplete thoughts, my words aren’t’ unique, just another inspection and expression of life’s constant contradiction. I’m a living cliché who find failure a mere fiction, who isn’t anxious with the unknown, seeks beauty in the evident.
I found home on benches, caves, couches of strangers, floor of new families, empty backrooms, and crowded buses. Good guys and bad guys don’t exist, honesty is subjective, justice sometimes objectionable, and a witness to unmasked beauty that cannot be undone or denied.
I’ve got olive oil in my veins, dirt in my skin, holes in my jeans, and a hunger in my heart. Craved cities, drank deserts, devoured forests, and still wanted a banana for dessert. Swallowed honey milk, poison, kindness, and the tap water. Saw weak wealth and powerful poverty, found wonder in waste bins and scorn for sky scrapers.
I’ve wept onto the shoulders of strangers, spit in the face of pests, been scarred, strengthened, and I feel like I just started. Was avoided, ignored, praised, and stalked. I’ve been met with prejudice and open minds; spy or scholar? Daydreamed on rooftops, got ripped off, harassed, robbed, admired, and found generosity without looking. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling spoiled, weak, strong and inspired. I’ve lied, touched truth, tasted tajine, and freedom. With homesickness and wanderlust in my heart that I can’t help, but cry out to convey….
The people and places that shaped me today:
Yasmeen, Nasreen, Khalood, Tamam, Ola, Ikram, Marade, Tuqa, Karima, Ms. Karam, Amal, Haythem, Afef, Rund, Hind, Bushra, Yaseen, Omar, Khadija, Haj, Hajja, Oumnia, Lina, Nadia, Emoi, , Nas, Hana, Khaled, Asad…
Optimism and cynicism. Passion and reserve. Liberal and conservative. Gregarious and timid. Proud and bashful. Rebellion and tradition. Socialist and Anarchist. Believer and atheist. Poised and awkward. Courageous and fearful. Compassionate and callous. Imaginative and ordinary. Faith and doubt. Altruistic and self-consumed. Rage for rights and sing softly for simply love.
We are a bundle of contradictions inextricably bound.
Our connections a kite string, bond beyond borders, sisterhood and sibling in soul, how ink can carry the heart. A search for our voice is a search for our self, identity discovered, discard the constructed. Pioneers on our paths of passion, deeper understanding in self-reflection and outward connections. We are our mirrors, we are our windows. For Poetry is the soul’s singing humanity to the singular and the whole. A connection of individual identity and universal understanding shared through words scribbled on scraps of napkin, whispered in loud cafes, proclaimed on street corners, and forwarded on facebook. Form fades, but the energy remains. We join in life’s grand cacophony of music. Write it, whisper it, sing it, shout it… to shed our veils, to find our voice.