“Upon Arrival” — Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

“Upon Arrival”
by
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

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.
You will need to state the reason for your visit.
Don’t say because the olives are ready for harvest
and I will coax the fruit from the trees,
press it into liquid gold.
You will need to state the reason for your visit.
Don’t say because my parents’ house
still sits empty on a bluff overlooking the sea,
the green shutters my grandfather had just painted
remain sealed shut
and the army listed the property’s owners
as absentees.
You will need to state the reason for your visit.
Don’t say because I am carrying prayers in my suitcase
for a people who wait,
and I’ll unfold them
embroidered linens of verse
and spread them out across the land.

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