By Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
Call out to the night Ya layl
We embroidered the first map of stars
traced the feathers of Altir
on its kohl-dark hills.
Call out to the night Ya layl ya layl
Let its name surge in our charred throats
Let the balm of its breezes
glide over our song.
Call the night ours Ya layli ya layli ya layl
Who braves the salt-crusted blades of its ocean
with bleeding limbs and barefoot children?
Who walks the trembling sands of its deserts
with broken astrolabes and scorpion silence?
Who surrenders their song to its tyrant wind
a thousand times for the promise
of a sunrise?
Call out Ya layli ya layli ya layl
The night has no answers.
We are its words.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha writes poetry, essays and literary translations. She has been published in journals including Kenyon Review Online, Diode, and Sukoon. She is twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her first book of poems, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in April 2017.