Heritage

George Abraham

Come morning, he won't even remember my name.
Come midnight, we'll be washed of his every trace:

the blood pooling in moonlight, staining oceans
empty of biology's brief mimicry. I said I love him

because he too was born on the wrong side of a wall;
perhaps, in funeral quiet, this is the whitest he'll ever be.

We thank him for his service behind a makeshift altar
& what of gratitude isn't a thinning bloodline?

His head pillowed by flag of blood & star. In life,
he'd cook for us. He never let us leave empty-stomached.

His brother grips my hand. Asks what are you?
Transfixes his eyes on the wounds I bulleted into my own face.

All he knows of divinity was once heresy & clipped wing.

In truth, had they known of the mouths I spoke a swollen
history into, most men in my family would have wanted me

dead & I'd like to think this its own forgiveness —
into the gardener's hands, both seed & floodwater;
the expense of every bloom, a season of winded upheaval

because who else would know better this swallow
& fang-sunk tongue? because they've tasted their own

pooling blood, I'd like to think my ancestors couldn't imagine
me unwritten from their gospel — the ghosts that wear my name,

not the exiles of another heaven: inherited,
because we too lost our countries before we lost our bodies.

Every man I've held with pen was once capable of breaking me.
We were never meant to survive this mythos.

Forgive me. I'm running from this story, into another boy's arms like

We were never meant to survive this mythos.
Every man I've held with palm was once capable of breaking me

because we lost our countries before we lost our bodies;
not the exiles of — another heaven inherited

me from unwritten gospel — the ghosts that wear my name
pooling blood; I'd like to think my ancestors couldn't imagine

this fang-sunk tongue because they've tasted their own;
because who else would know better this swallow —

the expense of every bloom, a season of winded upheaval
into the gardener's hands, both seed & floodwater;

& death, I'd like to think, is its own forgiveness —
its own history — most men like him would have wanted a family in me,

in truth, had they not known of the mouths I swelled into.
All we know of heresy was once divinity's un-clipped wing.

He transfixes his eyes on the wounds I bulleted into my own face.
He grips my hand, asks what are you        wanting?

He cooked for me, after. He'd never let me leave empty-stomached.
My head, pillowed by stars of no flag. In life,
what of gratitude isn't a thinning bloodline?

I thanked & serviced him behind our makeshift altar
in funeral quiet. Perhaps this is the whitest I'll ever be —

Although he too was born on the wrong side of a wall
empty of biology's brief mimicry, I couldn't have said I love you like this:
our blood, pooling in moonlight, staining oceans —

come midnight, I'll wash myself of his every trace.
Come morning, I won't even remember his name.
 

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George Abraham is a Palestinian American poet from Jacksonville, Florida. They are the author of Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), and the chapbooks: the specimen’s apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019) and al youm (TAR, 2017). He is a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), a Kundiman and Watering Hole fellow, and a recipient of the College Union Poetry Slam International’s Best Poet title. His work has appeared or is forthcoming with The American Poetry Review, LitHub, Mizna, The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, and Bettering American Poetry. He is currently based in Massachusetts, where he is a PhD candidate in Bioengineering at Harvard University. 

Abraham’s highly anticipated debut constructs a dialogue in which “every pronoun is a Free Palestine.” 

Through poems of immense emotion, and the use of alluring form, Abraham crafts work that examines what we come to own by existing.

Birthright begs readers to stay, to stay lucid, to stay alive, to stay present in this very moment; as it knows now is all we are guaranteed. As trauma seeps through generations, can the body deconstruct its own inheritance?  In a world that only takes, what is owed? What is your Birthright, and where is home?

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