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 https://www.barjeelartfoundation.org/collection/mona-hatoum-witness/
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.