“My Great-Grandmother Carved Her Name On This Door” by Nardine Taleb

Nardine Taleb


A boy lost his father. This is no lost tooth.

That burning mosque is not a burning building

but a set of blistering arms. I’m sick of myself. If

I must fail, then let it be at complicity. This time

I can’t look at my reflection without seeing what I am:

a torch. Look at me: I’m not here. I’m at the foot

of the house where the soldiers spit

at my father. I put a cigarette to my skin

and I rupture: You are not

taking me mute. I’ve got a tongue to prove what

I already know, that silence is just noise

rubbing its hands together. What is there to be

silent about? Everything has already been said

except the way I have to say it: this land is my

body this land is my body this land is my

body. My great-grandmother carved her name

in this door. I’m not

leaving. My people in the streets are dying

like people. Two guns at my throat

like a new set of eyes.

from Poets Respond
May 16, 2021


Nardine Taleb: “I wrote this poem for Palestine in light of the recent violence against the people and children there. I felt, standing at the Free Palestine protests this week, that it’s easy to live my life turning a blind eye to injustice. I went to the protests to demonstrate that I will not take the easy route. Standing next to me was an older lady. As she chanted, she was crying, and I could see in her eyes that she couldn’t believe it: people cared about her people, who are dying. How long had she waited for someone to care? I wrote this poem with that heartbreak in mind.”

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