N30

by Samia Saliba

 

carrying their swaddled infant while they run
away from the white teargas clouds, peppery
in our pores, though the baby does not cry
my father runs back to flip a garbage can or

maybe light it on fire my mama sees him on
tv, eyes red fists in the sky and says mashallah
in her head. the streets are choking while he
dips between cop cars; the baby, still sleeping,

knows love. my parents first watch each other
through a camera lens in 1990. my parents first
see each other through broken glasses and not-
cigarette smoke. my parents first hold each other

while the train rattles the house. my parents may
have known each other earlier had my mama
left a note on his old toyota black-grey truck
to say i love your free palestine bumper sticker—  

call me. my parents discuss marriage on their
first date. my parents shut down a freeway
once. my parents buy a house before they are
married but it takes six years to convince dad

to commit to a baby. my parents do not (really)
keep secrets. my father used to listen to lauryn
hill in the 90s, is something i learned this week.
my parents don’t keep secrets but sometimes

when we walk through the city my mother dis-
closes a new step in the story. my parents met
then re-met then re-re-met outside a church on
the grass. my parents pick me up from soccer

practice holding hands, my father’s shoulders
tilted crooked to reach my mother’s hands. my
parents smile all the time. my parents hos
meetings in our living room every weekend

that i can remember to talk about the war, and
the other war. my parents break silences. my
parents swaddle me then re-swaddle me then
re-re-swaddle me then haul me to a protest,

my baby-face plastered under a headline reading
no iraq war. my parents paint my face full of
butterflies. my parents remind me that butterflies
are free to fly and so are all the world’s children.

my parents break the silence. my parents teach me
how to love a family and to love another family.
my parents love the world at least as much as
they love each other. my parents love each other;

let me rephrase: though my mother snores like a
storm and wakes my father every night, he still
holds her tightly and convinces himself that
this night will be different.

 


Samia Saliba (she/her) is an Arab-American writer, activist, and former protest baby from Washington state currently studying history. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Mizna, Unootha Mag, and Radical Blankets II. Find her on Twitter @sa_miathrmoplis or in real life petting a cat.