Jessica Abughattas

Go and find my great grandmother’s grave in Bethlehem. 
Go and find her buried under rubble — entire cities, all they contain
Doctors and poets, newly wed and newly born, a cavalcade of kisses
Go and tell them they no longer exist. 
Go and find them drinking Turkish coffee and smoking their Marlboros
Go and tell them they don’t exist. 
Go and find my great grandmother’s grave in Bethlehem. 
Go and find my name in stone. 
Tell her, in America a Palestinian girl kisses a Jewish boy in the street. 
In front of everyone. 
Go and tell her my hands take the same shape as her hands, 
the hands that held my grandmother as a baby, 
the hands that rolled out taboon bread, 
the hands my grandmother kissed and then folded
in a coffin when she said goodbye to her mother, her land. 
Go and find my great grandmother
Tell her how her daughter saw those hands again. 
Go and tell her how her hands live again in America
Tell her how they type these words. 
Go and tell her how her hands are changing
the narrative half a century after she becomes the earth, 
after she becomes Palestine itself. 
Go and tell her the news, she is risen. 
In Jordan two hands dip a baby into the river, 
is it a baptism or a drowning? A baptism or a drowning? 

Jessica Abughattas

Nakba — the Arabic term for the events of 1948, when many Palestinians were displaced from their homeland by the creation of the new state of Israel. 
I sigh so wide my jaw unhinges itself. 
An IDF boot left behind in Nablus
hangs by its shoestrings like a baby’s mobile. 
I am, at this point, only an idea. 
Liken this to the intimacy of a hound
that falls at your feet and sleeps. 
I am the meat in the cheek of the soldier who gnashes
his teeth as he follows orders to disaster. 
Liken this to myself age nine nodding off in church
when grandmother asks me to pray for money. 
Liken this to a beast that curls once about
grandfather’s house and submits to slumber. 
Liken this to my father, who drooled chin to chest
on the flight from Jordan to California. 
My feet are Solomon’s palm trees, slim and slippered. 
They fall one after the other deeper into night. 
Liken this to the dark circles around my eyes
that appeared in my twenty fifth year and stayed. 
A dove made of bullets flies through an open window. 
A prince’s son becomes a taxi driver. 
A crane jerks its neck, wrecking ball swings
like a baseball bat as tanks line Beit Jala’s crooked
cobbled web streets. Armored caterpillars
await their metamorphoses. I am crushed
between two incisors inside the mouth of a nation
gaping open like a wound, 
softly, asleep. 

Author's Commentary: These poems explore my notion of origin as a first generation American, born to immigrants in California. "Nakba" is an Arabic word that literally translates "catastrophe."

Jessica Abughattas is a Palestinian American writer from Los Angeles. She is an MFA candidate at Antioch University, where she is the Poetry Editor of Lunch Ticket. Before pursuing an MFA in poetry, she interned at Write Bloody Publishing and served as Editor of Currents Magazine. Her poems are forthcoming in Drunk in a Midnight Choir.