Vanitas, by Saadia Shaikh. Image courtesy of the artist
A thing must have hands
what it cannot touch
Define in, I say when anyone asks
if I’ve ever been in a war. I smoked
pot with a boy who refused to
marry me. I slept through the
airport bombing. When the
window facing the street shattered,
I kept a piece in my mother’s glove
Sometimes I’ll make myself thin
to slip through walls
But if you don’t name the tree
My grandmother’s couch milks itself into the carpet
how can you love it
Palestine, a name that means
The worst ghosts are the ones that don’t come back.
The officer at JFK scans me. My body, ghost-white, flickering on his screen.
Pretty boy. Blue eyes.
Takes my fingerprint and winks.
Cheer up. You’re home.
~ 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.