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Dear Najwan.



Dear Najwan,

You sent your new book of poems from Istanbul,
Your heart is in Jerusalem.
Does Jerusalem have a heart?
They cheered the Al-Aqsa catching fire,
Are they mad?
If you forget horror, you repeat it.

Bayan tweets frantically from Gaza,
Aunt Miami and Hadeel, “the bride to be”, are no more,
War is an untimely carnivore,
Bayan can’t fathom she is awake or dead,
She writes to feel she is alive.
Bombs drop like toys all over Gaza,
A boy pulls his brother in a cart
Like the Syrian refugee children in Capernaum.

You dreamt the executioners,
The ones you said, put the gas chambers into their victims,
The barbed air at checkposts
Spreads all over Gaza,
To bait the liars, you wrote: The whole thing is fabricated,
Poetry mocks the fate of history.

I wished you Eid Mubarak, adding with a sigh,
“Najwan, our gods are weak”.
You replied, “Weak, but still resisting”.

Your people in masks, unmask the tyrant,
The streets rise to their roaring,
Soldiers push women down by their throat,
They resist with their legs,
People oppose broken walls with murals,
Bullets with balloons,
The night is raining bombs.

Before a shelling took his life,
Ahmad Mansi taught one last thing to his children:
Smile against fear.
Eman writes, “I lose faith gradually in words”…
Nothing remains if words come to nothing.

I open your book in despair, I too need words,
Write a single word / before you leave
I want to tell Eman, the line you wrote remains
Our faith, we shall gradually find it back.

Yours, Manash [17 March, 2021].

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is a poet and writer. He is the author of The Town Slowly EmptiesOn Life and Culture during Lockdown (Headpress, Copper Coin, 2021). His poems have appeared in World Literature Today, Rattle, The London MagazineNew Welsh ReviewMudlark, Acumen, Hobart, Glass: A Review of Poetry, and other publications. His first collection of poetry, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013) was published by London Magazine Editions.

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