Two Poems | Samia Saliba

high water

i think i’ll live forever because that’s what sharks do. 
i wanna dive into myself like an ocean bleeding out 
on the shore, splitting sand down into sand. i wanna
miss class because i’m waiting for the bus with you
on it, the morning shape of your face all ears & rosy
eyelids. how much i’ve forgotten. it’s been months 
since i saw a quarter. you’d spin them on the counter 
and watch my eyes spin out. you’d rub my thumb. i
wanna cry in a public restroom that smells like soup. 
i want my book back from the guy who doesn’t know 
what communism means. i wanna flood my mouth
with espresso or whipped cream. i want it all. i think 
there’s more to people than water. i’ll drown in it
& never die. 


after Mona Hatoum 

& so we walked until the ground made moons 
of our cratered feet, 

calloused & polished        the mountain’s 
stomach        bloated with everyone’s grief. 

there        we joined      the people 
nestled in pairs against the shore 

watch        we said        how each of us becomes 
more precious in death               and even more deadly.

& so we  listened for the whistles of birds
& shrapnel      the taste 

of  smoke between our ears.
we watched      the mothers 

drag effigies     of our cousins 
into the water,      cotton bellies emptier 

than ever in life, their arms     rattling 
like spoons for a mouth;           watch: 

their bodies make dynasties 
even the ocean cannot shake.  

& so we watched: 

the bodies of angels,  porcelain under the sea
the crest & trough         a rhythm smoothing 

the bullet wounds into tunnels, the holes so black
they could have been stars

WITNESS is an ekphrasis on the Mona Hatoum sculpture Witness which can be viewed at

Samia Saliba (she/her) is an Arab-American writer and historian. She edited The Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq 4.5 Writing Showcase for writers of Arab heritage (2020) and was a RAWI Wet Hot Arab-American Summer fellow (2019). Her work has been published in Rusted Radishes, Mizna, Protean Magazine, Sumou Magazine, and elsewhere. Find her on twitter @sa_miathrmoplis or in real life petting a cat.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.