Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

God in the Great Return March

Mariam Abukwaik | 11-01-2019

Poet's note: For many Palestinians, trust in God is what enables them to cope with the occupation, death, unemployment and pain. Our conviction that God listens to those who are oppressed and is on the side of the oppressed provides solace in the midst of trauma. It’s very easy to feel hopeless when given so many reasons to feel that way; thus, many turn to religion. This poem is meant to be a message of hope, a reminder that although our earth gives us reasons to feel hopeless, God has not given up on us.

Protesters in front of smoke wrapped in Palestinian flag

We breathe air that coughs up dust.
We fly kites in winds that know fumes more than oxygen.
We dance dabka* on soil that spits back our children’s blood.
Corpses scream for shelter; our limbs are what’s left to protect them,
amid the crumbled homes.

We smile while we protest,
for God hears our cries.
He sees us through smoke and under ash.
He wipes our tears while we mourn for martyrs.
The world turns away,
but God does not close His eyes;
He has watched as every war has come and gone.

Our feet are planted deep
in the only land that commemorates our names.
When it rains, the mud rises to our knees,
but our souls stay in our fists.
Our flag takes flight
and remains upright in the hands of fallen protestors.
We are steadfast in the march.  
The sky throws dust in our eyes, but we keep them open.
Like our kites, we will prevail over borders.
The electricity may be cut in winter,
but our right to this earth will keep our city warm.
Color fills our cheeks, for we enjoy life—rooted and proud.

from Allah we come and to Him we return.
do not doubt God;
Al-Awda* is His promise.
Martyrs exhale Allah’s words in their final breath;
the wind tries to push it back,
but our Lord is commander of all beings.
With the final words, I testify that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is His messenger,
the fallen breathe in their Lord,
releasing the air that has choked them far too long,
recalling the dance that celebrates memories of the slain.
Underground, the shuhada*
continue to safeguard our country.

*Dabka = traditional Palestinian dance
Al-Awda = the right of return (for Palestinians to Palestine)
Shuhada = Arabic word for “martyrs”



Posted: January 10, 2019

Mentor: Zeina Azzam

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