ghaflah — the sin of forgetfulness (d.hilal)

born by the mediterranean
our mothers bathe us in orange-blossom water
olive trees and cedars
strain to give us shade
we come to america where they call our land
the East meaning different/dark/dirty
we soon forget
our grandmothers combed hair like ours
we wish our hair blonde our eyes and skin light
we know barbie
looks better than scheherazade
we think french makes us sophisticated so
we greet each other with bonjour instead of salaam
proud of our colonizer’s tongue
we forget the Qur’an sings in arabic

when we arrived
our fingernails pierced the palms of our hands
we started at pictures of our children
eye sockets carved out by rubber bullets
on the 10 o’clock news
our brothers and sisters spit up blood and teeth
and CBS declares them ‘terrorists’

now we turn away from bruises and broken bones
body counts and funerals
we know we cannot help anyway
we forget we once stood on the same ground
they die on
we look for the arabia packaged by the west
we escape into clubs to watch
blonde belly
dancers named jasmine
sashay almost named
we eat pasty hummous at eight dollars a plate
and tell each other
how much we miss our home

[dima hilal]