However broken the sentences
you believe them preferable to silence

the kind that crowned
the remains of the village

Kabri was without a fight

or the park now at its entrance,
past the foundation stones beneath the picnic benches

to the fig trees huddled over headstones.
Kabri looms large over heavy branches,

the name a contraband clutched in throats.
Homeland of water, the guide said that

Reshef, who was together with his brother got hold of a few youngsters, lined them up

the springs of Kabri quenched all the villages
of Akka, moistened the lips of morning.

He recounted their names
عين مفشوح عين فنارة عين العسل

fired at them with a machine gun. He was a brave fighter.

songs of plenty their syllables cascading
over us in light soft as apricot skins.

I wonder at these park benches
perched above the ruins of another woman’s home.

our friend urged us to proceed, it was not too long before they took us and a few others.

You unsheathe your fear when the body count rises.
You calibrate majorities, try to mitigate the distance

from doorstep to checkpoint. I hear
the language of sunbirds trilling in the carob trees,

There a Jewish officer put a gun to my husband’s neck, “You are from Kabri?”

Someone had to choose
to position a park bench with a view of the village

took away my husband, Ibrahim, Hussain, Khalil al-Tamlawi, Uthman, and Raja.

cemetery, of the monument to the conquering
brigade. Your fears demand fortification and I’m left to exhume

An officer asked me not to cry. We slept in the orchards that night. Next morning

the names beneath your settlements, to dust
time off their letters. Find me

on the way to the village courtyard I saw Um Taha. She cried and said,

a language for us to grieve those whose children
wait precious few kilometres from the park benches, relegated

“You had better go see your dead husband.” I found him. He was shot in the back of the head.

to a camp’s sewage-filled alleys, to half-streets,
shuttered beneath a net of refuse, the thorn-strewn path. Enough

for each of us, let this language be enough
or let silence

                     final, diluvial.


*with italicized excerpts from The Palestinian Exodus from Galilee, 1948 by Nafez Nazzal and Sacred Landscape:The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 by Meron Benvenisti. 

Copyright © 2018 Lena Khalaf Tuffaha. This poem originally appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review. Used with permission of the author.