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Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail was born in Baghdad, Iraq and came to the US in the mid 1990s. She is the author of The Iraqi Nights, Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea and The War Works Hard. Her honors include a Kresge fellowship (2013), the Arab American Book Award  (2010), shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize (2006) and a UN Human Rights award (2001). She currently teaches Arabic at Oakland University in Michigan.

Broken Memories

In your one basket
I put all of my eggs.

An egg for the anthem
we memorize on the way to school:
"My homeland, my homeland,
will I see you? Will I see you?
Safe and comforted, sound
and honored?
Will I see you?..."

An egg for the classroom
shaking from explosions
and the teacher goes on with her lesson.

An egg for our chat    
flowing at the house's threshold  
and the sun breaks
through scattered glass.

An egg for the candy moon
we wrap under the pillow
so we dream of the ones who
will love us tomorrow.

An egg for the River Street,
its birds hear the girls' secrets
and forget.

An egg for your favorite Fairouz song.
The siren cuts it for a moment
and then returns it:
"Twenty times the snow came and melted away
and I grew older
but Shadi is still that little one
playing in the snow."

I want that same place
and you in it as always:
how you remember my flower
kept in the refrigerator,
or how I met that angel
whose wings I borrowed with the names
of my dead ones.

I want that place
and I in it as always:
I know the trees
in your garden and how they grow
quietly like grandmothers,
and how the gravity pulls light
into your hands.

To lose your memory now
is unbearable,
as if I am suddenly in your bowl
a dead fish.


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