Reading Hearts and Hills

Reading Hearts and Hills

Friend, do you remember that night
you asked me to read your poems?
And I –
like the procrastination prone student I am –
happily agreed
and spent the night
reading your heart
instead of my
post-modern theorists.

Months later, I had forgotten
that night, but today
like a lost treasure
in a mystery file
of a manuscript,
it appeared on my screen.

As I scroll down
the lines and echoes
of your voice,
I spot
from my window
Darwish’s gravesite
at the top of a hill
and the new center
they are building in his honor.

And I think of him
watching over this city
and wonder if the new construction
atop every hill
ruins his view
North to home.

I think of the words
and rhythm
he gave us to share
with one another
and wonder if he would
have agreed
that reading poetry
is like reading a heart.

If I read him
slowly, in my broken Arabic,
is it like reading
his heart, slowly, but broken?

Or maybe we can only read
the hearts we know.
The rest are hearts
we read in flight,
begging them
to slow down,
so we can catch a glimpse,
even if broken.

And though I feel at ease
between these hills,
I wonder
if it has more to do with
years lost
in Tennessee’s mountains
than years lost
in dreams of a homeland.

But what I wonder most
is if my heart
can be read,
regardless of the answer.

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