The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Diya Abdo



He said: “It was a country then.”

And by country, he meant that the sky rained water
not shrapnel.

That the earth grew cedars, not teetering

All that is left of the buildings.

That their neighbors came over for tea
Unmasked, gunless.

He said: “The whole family would go to the shore. Deck the sand with barbeque pits,

the men falling in rows to play the durbakkeh by the water-line.

Now they are dumping the bodies in the sea. No place to bury them
they said.

Why don’t they bury them in the desert?

The desert is so vast

and can hold so many bodies.”

I have no answers for his question. Conversations like these are one-sided.

And what could I have said?  That perhaps overwhelming death coupled with

persistent threat necessitates a quickness the rushing of the waves provides?

The sea is a place that is somewhere -- there, beyond the water-line. That is

precisely why the others are leaving. Why your parents have left.

Here, on this side of the water-line, is nowhere.




DIYA ABDO is a first-generation Palestinian raised in Jordan. An associate professor of English at Guilford College in NC, her teaching and scholarship focus on Arab women writers and Arab and Islamic feminisms. She has published poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Her public essays address the intersections of gender, political identity, and vocation. She is the founder and director of Every Campus A Refuge which houses refugees on campus grounds and assists them in resettlement.