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

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

Once upon a sunset

Khaled Al-Ostath | 19-11-2020


“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”

― John Green, Looking for Alaska 


Here I am,
legs hanging down a hill,
the briny smell of beach water below, 
winter wind howling
and blowing fast.
The sky clothed in 
a yellow and red blanket
on a bed of blue waves. 

It’s hard to be here and
not think of home
and of her.
It feels like something is stolen from
this place, like a lost memory.
There’s a sadness that evolves.
What am I?
Why am I here?
What makes me yearn
for something I know
I will never have again?   

I stare at the sky with a clutching eye
asking Him--if He listens--for a sign.
Or maybe for someone to rely on,
someone to share the fear.      

On the day I met her
she sat on a hill,
holding a book,
looking at the sun
with squinting eyes,
reading the words,
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,

and nodding like a wise woman
who knew all the answers.  

I said, Excuse me,
what do you see there in the sky?

She replied, I see someone going home.
Someone painted the sky
shades of orange and yellow.

She looked at me when I laughed.
I held her hand
and drew her close.    

There on a hill by a beach,
we stood for a while.
She rested her head on my shoulder,
held my hand,  
told me how much
she loved the sky
blanketed in red and yellow,
the blue waves of the sea,
the petrichor of winter
and me.

She asked, If you become a poet one day,
will you write me a poem?

I smiled and said nothing. 
Now every poem is about her.
Every poem goes back to her.    

Here I am, with a beer in hand,
watching the sunset,
the wind blowing in my face
and the memories slipping away.
I toast those I’ve lost and wonder
if there is someone to share a sunset,
in the best of times,
as well as in the worst of times. 

Posted: November 19, 2020

Mentor: Zeina Azzam

Get updates to your inbox. Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter.
New server