What We Will Tell

Rewa Zeinati

We’ll tell them we tried. We told stories and wrote poems and were
sometimes ignored. We filled the classrooms with manifestos and
sex. We filled the classrooms with questions. We’ll tell them we rode
buses from the villages all the way to the city and back. We burned
candles in church and then we burned down the church. We’ll tell
them we did not all want to believe in the holy stories that we were
fed. That we had needles pushed into our uterus and breast. How
even once was enough. We’ll tell them we did not mean to keep the
ones in power in power. We’ll tell them about power outages. The
leaving of water. The shifting sun and all the wrong colors. We’ll tell
them there was war here once and then again there was war. We’ll tell
them we ate too much and spent too much and considered the street
beggar with the drugged child on her chest invisible. We’ll tell them
how we became invisible. How we told on each other. How we stayed
up some nights because we did not believe the moon would ever
come back. We’ll tell them we believed in the muscle of the moon
and the ebb and flow of lies. We will tell them we lied. Stole from
each other. Never forgave forgiveness. We’ll tell them how we hated
food. Processed it. Threw it up. And /sometimes/ we ate it. We’ll tell
them there was once a word and that word was [home] but we did not
know what it meant so we left it behind to burn. We watched it on
the news and remembered its light. Its infinite forest where trees were
and weren’t. Where the scent of yasmeen reminded us of the hands
of our mothers and the leaving of grass. We’ll tell them about grass.
And how we were forced instead to learn the language of concrete
and billboards and deserts /and the absence of birds./ We’ll tell them
about birds and the thick song of departure stuck in our throat. How
these birds took us from one country to another. We’ll tell them about
countries. And how we needed papers to visit. We’ll try to explain
permission. [We will try to explain permission.] And how sometimes
we got it and sometimes we didn’t. We will say we did not all deserve
the passage. We’ll tell them how we pulled off our limbs and folded
our bones and drowned them in the red womb of water to get there.
We’ll explain water. How it came down in threads from the thick blue
attic and how it spread as a river. We will try to explain river. And we
will fail.

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Lebanese-American poet and writer, Rewa Zeinati, is the author of the poetry chapbook, Bullets & Orchids, published by Corrupt Press (2013). Her creative nonfiction book entitled, Nietzsche’s Camel Must Die: An Invitation to Say ‘No’, is published by xanadu (2013). Several of her poems, essays, interviews and translations (from the Arabic into English) have been published in literary journals and anthologies in the USA, UK and Arab region.

Natural Bridge

Spring 2018

St. Louis, Missouri

University of Missouri–St. Louis

Editor: Mary Troy
Managing Editor: Dusty Freund

Natural Bridge, a journal of contemporary literature, began publishing fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and works in translation by award-winning writers just prior to the new millennium, and its national and international subscriptions, and thus its reach, have grown yearly…. New, emerging, and mid-career writers whose work has been published in Natural Bridge have been anthologized and have gone on to win the Flannery O’Connor, the Drue Heinz, the John Ciardi prizes, and more.

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