our mothers and their lives of suffer

raised to fetch slippers and brew tea
kill chickens and roast lambs
you scrubbed floors raw
on knees bleeding exhaustion
fed babies and watered plants
you embroidered your dreams
into scarves and veils

married to men you did not know
so how could you love
you learned to love though
your children
their baby whimpers and
nipple sucking

when your land is raped you
thank god you still have husbands
when your husbands are jailed
you thank god for your sons
when your sons are murdered ppppppp execution style
you hide your daughters and
when they are found and jailed
you fast til they return
and pray some more and
when they are pppppppp as their land ppppp raped
you prepare bandages and some
more prayer and when your family
loses all faith you
pray for their souls

half your sons leave ppppppppp crazy
to be with the enemy's woman
the other half stay ppppppppppppp crazy
to take out their hunger
on your daughters

and when we your
daughters say we are
about more than chickens and tea
you ask who do
we think we no better than you
and you are right

we take your smoldering strength and
maternal love to throw as
stones at mercenaries
use your patience as shields in the nights
your womb pp our shelter
your heart p where we bury our dead

you softly recite our poetry
in songs sad and true
fast for our return and
pray for our souls

we mistake your strength
for acquiescence
cause it's brown and quiet
remind us mothers
how you are the ones who
converse daily with ancestors
dialogue with angels
curse the devil
and through your exile
still cook the best okra though
force us to eat it

we p your daughters
ppp and our men
honor our mothers
and the lives
they survived

we follow the sun each day
ppp it rises in the east
as you once did
and warms us
as you once did


From BORN PALESTINIAN, BORN BLACK (Harlem River Press, 1996)

 

Poems by Suheir Hammad

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our mothers and their lives of suffer

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