by Shayma Al Harthi

after mohammed elkurd

to hell with ancestral roots! there is nothing I know about the homeland but that it grows here. see, here! count the lines between your thumb and index finger and that should tell you how many kids you will bring to the world. homeland is a fortune, so is the number of kids you will bring. look at your palms; here is the expanse of our roots. here is where our limbs sprouted in the dirt of Sana’a where sweat nourished the Earth. I scrape my hands against graphite until blood smears all the ways back to Hadhramout. I don’t want to look at my palms! there are holes with people in the ground more than I can count houses. there are weddings with deafening Sharah more than there are gunshots. my feet are cold in the waters of Taiz and for once I am not sobbing. homeland is in your palms just like your fortune. here’s the man whose pictures linger in my grandmother’s purse. I don’t care for the pictures of my ancestors or their polaroids. they are only there until they are not, just like a homeland is until it isn’t. Ocean Vuong says ‘i miss you more than i remember you’. Yemen, can I braid your hair?

Shayma Al Harthi is a growing writer and avid consumer of poetry located in the heart of Sharjah, and sometimes Abu Dhabi. She returns to ideas of belonging, memory, and her grandmother’s stories when she writes. She is also the Arabic submissions editor at Unootha Magazine. You may find her fangirling about music she listens to on Twitter: @starssoup