Arabic Mantra

When you feel like you’re far from home and you are
When you choose to breathe in and breathe out
When you approach a preoccupied stranger in the sooq
When you see a five-year-old boy who is restless in the street
When you can’t stop thinking about Nawal and her situation
When you notice an already contentious middle-aged woman sitting in the front row before you give your talk
When you realize that emptiness seems to have taken up permanent lodging in your soul
When you meet up with a friend who’s had enough of her life and is taking it out on you
When you have a searing memory of how bad it all really was
When you can’t seem to get on the exit ramp from the Via Dolorosa
When you sit down to write and nothing comes out
When you hear the knock on the door at just the moment the words begin to tumble forth
When you understand you’re no longer needed at work
When you grasp that no one even realized you were gone
When you understand that this, here, now, is it
When you know it tolls for you
When you remember how the Bedouins fed you
When it occurs to you on Michigan Avenue at 2 p.m. that you’re a nobody to everyone whichever way you look
When you get another email filled with vituperation
When you are sipping espresso on a sidewalk café with Pandemonium coming right around the corner

The mantra to cultivate
Day in, day out—

Ahlan wa-sahlan

Romaytha Abdullah

Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

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