When I struggle to find the words, I turn to poetry.
Tonight, I am drawn to three poems.
Cemal Süreya (1931-1990), a Turkish poet, in “Now Sweetheart” wrote:
Now sweetheart, I am thinking of you in a big city
A dim blue pen in my hand, two packs of cigarettes in my pocket
Our life is like a movie playing in front of my eyes
Our going out freely, drinking water together, kissing
I cry, whenever I remember how we laughed together.
Flowers, flowers, I watered the flowers this morning
That rose just doesn’t smile when you are not here
That flower you put in water by the window to get it grow roots
It is completely in grief these days
A dense and strong daylight is hitting the window
The plates are cheerless on the table
The hallway is deserted
The towels are alone in the shower
Don’t even ask the kitchen – untidy and dirty
The sponge is right there, the breadbox is empty
The ventilator is breathless
The rugs are dusty
My clothes are in the wardrobe, and here and there
Memo’s toy box is in deep sleep
The blue night lamp has no ambition
The door says open me, close me
The curtains are like snakes changing skin
The radio? It is silent
The stool is afraid of the chairs
The small room is dark and deserted
Everything is waiting for you, for your return
For you to come in
For the touch of your hands
For the touch of your eyes
And everything is repeating
How much I love you
One of my favorite poets, Nayyirah Waheed, urged, succinctly yet powerfully:
“Grieve, so you can be free to feel something else.”
Finally, in the last years of his life (“To Young Americans of Syrian origin”), Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), the famous poet from what was, at the time, considered “Greater Syria” urged Syrians of the diaspora to “say in [their] hearts: "I am the descendant of a people that builded Damascus, and Biblus, and Tyre and Sidon, and Antioch, and I am here to build with you, and with a will."
When I struggle to find myself, I turn to my community.
And grieve. And rebuild.
To our dear Turkish and Syrian colleagues and friends, I grieve alongside you. And I am here to build with you, and with a will.