A Refugee Grows Old

By | 5 December 2019

for my mother

She is surprised by the pink cyclamen
in the pot, examines the foreign

petals, upswept as if reaching toward
another place. Her own journey seems muted now,

details as far away as her childhood in Palestine.
Where in one scenario she would have lived

in the same place until great grandchildren
played around the lemon tree that defined

her family’s house in scent and space.
Where in the real scenario

she fled for her life with a husband and baby,
in her pocket a key that rusted over the years.

Her memories are like henna on a hand,
splendid arabesques fading each day

until gone. She has covered so many miles
by boat, plane, car, on foot, measured

by oceans and clouds, gas fumes,
tattered flags left behind, driver’s licenses,

rental agreements, goodbyes to friends and family,
a lifetime unanchored, cleaved.

She continues to worry someone
is plotting to take away her home

while slowly hunching over, a downswept
bent flower weighed down by hallucinations.

She knows some things never leave you
so you have to leave them yourself,

takes small steps away
looking for some peace.

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