My Self

I narrate my tales
I twist the necks of time
I extract my past –
I exist.

I enter into history, beautiful and radiant.

I spread my robe –
the springs erupt
the cataracts fall:
Arabiyya, Zahret el Uqhuwan, Maheeba (1)
Rubeen (2), Al Houdaj (3), shatranj (4)
Al mawwal (5), ad dabke (6), at tabban (7)
Ayyoub, al’Ajami, en-Nabi Saleh (8)
Salama, Ajnadeen, El Fahham. (9)

Strings of words extend into time
Walled in by orange trees
the quinine
the quince.
Words that climb and travel:
‘Amman, Dimashk (10) and Libnan (11)
khaki uniforms, waterfalls, and cedar trees
Al Baka’a, Al Yarmouk, and Tal ez Za’atar. (12)

I inspirit the letters large
I shape my world
I make my history

I exist.

Written by: Faiha Abdulhadi
Translated by: Basem Ra’ad

1. Palestinian Arab female names, leaders of an armed underground organization operating in Jaffa in 1947.
2. A season of spring celebrations named after a prophet.
3. Horse and saddle in a bridal procession.
4. Shatranj is Arabic for chess, an intellectual game that was also played in that season.
5. Al mawwal is a folkloric song, voice-melodious, usually sad.
6. Dabke is a folkloric dance typical of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, punctuated by intricate footwork, with people dancing hand-locked as a community, at harvest time, in weddings and other celebrations.
7. At tabban is a sport activity during Rubeen season.
8. Local holy man; Ayyoub is also “Job”.
9. These are place man in the Jaffa area, location of 1948 clashes.
10. Dimashk is the ancient and current name of “Damascus”.
11. Libnan is “Lebanon”.
12. These are refugee camps in the region.