I like to tell stories about the women in my family.
They break dinner plates. They marry impulsively.
When I was a child I watched my aunt throw a halo
of spaghetti at the wall, screaming at my mother.
I’m older than they were now. I’ve retrained my gutter
heart: I can love while untying nooses. In an old-new
year, my cousin shouts ana bint Beirut to the streets.
We will both skitter and yield in the coming months,
like the surface of unbuilt ice. She clatters up the stairs.
I never remember to tell her anything. Not the dream
where I can’t yell loud enough for her to stop running.
And the train comes. And the moon grows on houses
like moss. Amar, luna. The plaza with its stone fountains.
How the best night of my life was the one she danced
with me in Paris, collapsing into my arms at the hostel,
and how sometimes you need one knife to carve
another. I want to call her from America to tell her,
Layal, Beirut’s last daughter, slow down, please.
~ Hala Alyan
Hala Alyan is an award-winning Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in numerous journals including The Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner and Colorado Review. She resides in Manhattan.