You try to find Home in the sour taste of green plums
You scrunch up your face from the blandness
It’s not the same, you lament.
Something is missing. It always is.
You can’t tell what.
You dip cucumbers in salt. It just adds woes to your wounds.
You bite in, then suck until your teeth are raw
But you’re left wanting…
So you try pomegranates instead.
You carefully seed. let your hands soak in the color,
like your grandmother used to.
But you’re left with a pang in your belly and you’re still lost, adrift.
How can you recreate that scene from your memories,
The one where you’re spitting watermelon seeds
between conversations about football
if all the watermelons here are seedless?
You feed yourself bread and yogurt for dinner
It’s no substitute for freshly baked Kolera and Lorek.
You sweeten your tea with sugar
You don’t even like tea.
You fill up the cup to the brink
All the while your hands shaking as you try to slurp instead of gulp.
What If Home is in that sound?
Or in the number of sugar cubes you pass through your teeth?
What if Home is in knival, Gilaxa, Rewas, Looshah, Pengah?
In the way you chop herbs.
In the way you were learning how to forage in spring.
In the way they taught you what to dry on rooftops for winter.
In the way you’ve now forgotten,
How to pick the edibles and leave behind the poison.
You try learning how to add coriander
and cumin and cloves to your stews
You make lamb.
What if Home is in the sacrifice, rituals
you can’t perform here
’cause you’re buying meat from the freezer aisles of Costco?
What if it takes the strong unbearable scent of blood
Running down the drain,
The chisel of burnt feathers,
The way they skinned the headless chicken
To feel like you belong?
What if you just can’t belong?
You dip your eyes in black eyeliner,
you try to look like your aunt at her wedding.
You hated her for marrying, moving
to that village where goats roamed free,
for leaving you to the city.
But even in colorful fabrics and hand sewn shoes,
even when you braid your hair in little meticulous patterns,
like you saw the women do
in the bathhouses of your childhood
you’re still foreign in your own skin.
So, what do you do?
You go knock on doors.
You think, maybe Home is in the men who reek of cigarettes
like your grandfather used to, like your uncles.
But they take from you and leave you starving.
Their hands lacking, their eyes gloss over parts of you that you don’t want erased.
You long to be seen. You pine for a moment of understanding, of recognition.
You yearn for someone to know how to say your name with ease.
You can’t make a house anywhere you lay your head
’cause you’re too busy searching, seeking
In books, in music, in films.
It’s not in your mother’s lullabies
It’s not in fresh almonds.
It’s not in your father’s nostalgic tales
It’s not in apricots.
It’s not in learning the names of your tribe
You don’t know who was whom.
You think, maybe something is always missing
because your tongue doesn’t rid itself of this accent
or maybe it’s because you always need a nap midday
the way you were lulled to bed in the heat next to your cousins.
Maybe, if you finally actually learn the words to your stateless national anthem
or find something new to sing
you can stop this relentless roaming, maybe you’ll finally sit still.
You think Home with capital H
has to be here, somewhere, anywhere
you know, deep down, It’s not “back home”.