Sandra and Nano and Noah and me,
running to get seats by the big window. And yes, our parents
are running too. And yes, our parents are the kind of immigrants
who leave the house at two for a one o’clock appointment,
but leave the house at three for a ten o’clock flight. I mean,
three a.m. for a ten p.m. flight. I mean, three a.m. two weeks before the flight.
I mean, we go to Ikea to watch the airplanes.
And maybe someone told us we could rebuild home here.
Or maybe, it is about the leaving, forgetting our small town
by way of 80 East, right past Newark airport, turn at Elizabeth
seaport and arrive at everything blue and yellow.
Sandra jokes but maybe she is not joking, take me with you,
as another plane asserts no homeland, roaring.
And we don’t know where any of them are going, but we know
our parents speak about Lebanon like the sun raves about morning
even behind the moon. We are young enough to know
how to map distance by the coffee our mothers drink and the hours
our fathers sleep. Remember when Lina and Habib spent their rent money
on plane tickets? We reinvent how to forfeit a country
again and again and again
and the voice of our God is our children claiming what we claim.
I bend my toes against the earth and my mom is her mom
yelling at her, yelling at me, sub7an’allah.
In Jbeil, after twenty years, my mom tells me,
these streets ate a lot from my feet and I think that means here
she can yell familiar names that leave the mouth a nest. This means
pitting fruit in the palm of her hand and war following. First time
in our parents’ country and we leave how they left, gathering
on the nose of the boat to watch the smoke carry on.
It is always about the leaving and we leave a way back
with every step forward. I mean, we still go to Ikea
and watch the airplanes. We still don’t know
where any of them are going,
but me and my mom and Sandra and Lina
stand at the parking lot’s edge, mouths open like a whole night,
running with the planes, almost dropping our bags of pillows,
laughing like we’ve never seen a hand-made thing defy before
and look look look
how easy they forget the ground.
From behind the chain link fence, the airport watches us back,
throws light like the young glow of a new sun. The plane gone somewhere.
My father’s cold hands, somewhere. With every fleeting thing maybe
we peel and forfeit by the earth’s accord. Like the massive metal planes
shrinking to small, blinking lights
inheriting the distance.
—Philipe AbiYouness (from Brooklyn Poets)