I talk back to the videos. Someone ate paper. Someone isn’t eating anymore.

Mornings like this, I wish I never loved anyone. What is it to be a lucky city, a row of white houses strung with Christmas lights.

There is no minute

A fortuneteller told me I’d marry one of Aleppo’s sons. That was seven years ago.

to spare.

Yesterday I dreamt my grandmother was a child who led me by the hand to a cave. Inside I found the wolf. I buried a dagger in his hot throat. 

This is the dark the world let in, and learned

:: to stomach
:: to shoulder
:: to keep

I woke up with my hands wet.

They are just

This ugly human impulse to make it mine.

hours away.

The Syria in my grandmother is a decade too old. When she dies, she will take it with her.

This is how a lone bomb can erase a lineage: the nicknames for your mother, the ghost stories, the only song that put your child to sleep.

No one is evacuating me.

Your citadel fed to the birds. Your mosque. Someone will make an art project out of your tweets.

My daughter.

The prophet’s birthday arrives without a single firework.

Surrender. Or die.

Or die.

In the city bombs peck the streets into a braille that we pretend we cannot read. A street fool of

:: girl bodies
:: mattresses
:: cooked hearts

Meanwhile, the wolf sleeps in his wolf palace. He drops each ghost into a water hole and licks his perfect teeth.

We were




We could paper all of Arkansas with your missing.

May you give us nowhere else to look. May you burn every newspaper with your name on it. Every textbook. Every memorial.

This too.

from The Twenty-Ninth Year: Poems by Hala Alyan. Copyright © 2019 by Hala Alyan. Used by permission by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.