Heredity
Shurouq Ibrahim

Hand over your feelings.

I’ll confine them between my flaky hands,

hold them like a finicky child might hold a captive butterfly,

and pour them into a clear glass jar resembling the one

my mother uses to store her sesame seeds and dried thyme.

And I’ll screw the cap on, and they’ll pickle.

You tell me

to hold your secrets tighter,

to guard them with all my might.

No one is to know your agony,

for some will be happy to hear it.

And the rest may be indifferent.

I tell you it’s okay to speak it;

I assure you it will help.

You shake your head with conviction:

Maybe in a land far away, not in a quarry town like ours.

Not where there are greater things to worry about.

Your eyes mean the bombs.

And your finger points to your home.

You tuck it deep into your bosom,

armor it with bones and flesh.

And when it stings, you clench your teeth

and say you’ll do what your mother did before you:

pass it on to your own.

And maybe things will be different then.

And maybe things will be different then.

 

Shurouq Ibrahim is a Palestinian-American English instructor residing in Ohio. She holds an MA in 21st Century Literature from the University of Lincoln, UK. Her poetry has appeared or is upcoming in Barzakh Poetry JournalProspectus Literary Review, Welter Literary Journal, Perch Magazine, and Wingless Dreamer. She often writes about the taboo in Arab and American culture: mental health, war, divorce, and domestic violence.

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