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It doesn’t matter where you land

an oil spill for a road.

All the wrong colors

to lend a breath

on land you never

felt your own.

Remember falling through this world

is a world in itself.

Stay there and play in the mud.

Scatter it everywhere and forget where it fell.

Maybe one day it will catch your feet

drowning into a familiar pose

or bring you back to tomorrow.

A mirage is two sunsets away and all around you

all at once.

Being someplace is the reflection of

your absence somewhere else.

Streams stop running only

when they are streams no more.

Because healing and hurting are separated by the direction

the wind blows through

bullet holes your motherland wears

around her neck.

Teaching your grandmother

to say good bye

in three different languages

at the age of four

a virgin with a memory.

A tongue without a mouth hears

its echo

turn into the marrow

of unformed tongues.

A jasmine vine plucked

to swallow the syrup out

of detached stems

before the flick

of their scattering

is the divergence

between home and country.

And photographs yellow for you

to listen: a place is only

a place in time and nothing more.

If you stay long enough your roots

surrender water

for crevasses parched into

one another

gathering and waiting for the right temperature to burn.


NADIM CHOUFI is an Arab-Lebanese poet and a regular contributor to Middle Eastern zines. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Sukoon, Sula Collective, Jaffat El Aqlam, and elsewhere.


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