Water & Salt by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha's Water & Salt makes me nostalgic for a place I've never been, and which doesn't exist anymore.  The speaker remembers life in a country that has been changed and worsened by conflict.  She speaks of it so beautifully you feel its loss, and hers.  There are many poems in the collection that are political, in a way that poetry can make you feel the wrongness and need for action in our world.  These aren't two different kinds of poems, however. They are the same.  Buy here.

 

From "It's Beirut Out There"

Before they were metaphors / they were someone's city. / They were a lover's beach, // a weekly market visit, a daily drive home. / Before they were victims, / before we were victims, // we were beloveds. / Before you were a survivor, / you were someone's light.

 

From "Upon Arrival"

You will need to state the reason for your visit. / Don't say because I want to walk down old roads / and caress stone walls the color of my skin.

 

From "Eating the Earth"

And to the flames surrender / the bread, gift of your hands. / Grasp its tender edges and turn it / as the heat strafes and chars / this landscape you have caressed. / Some grandmothers sing as they bake, / others speak prayers.