Volume 31, Number 3

Manna for Syria

I seek manna for Syria anywhere
The exiled grandmother of a colleague died before
dictatorship lifted in Uruguay, 
but her granddaughter lived to see
prisoners of conscience become 
president and first lady in a country
considered best in its region for democracy
Who will my daughter live to see emerge
from the dungeon in Syria?
A woman in Guatemala launches a school
in the piazza where her four sons and husband 
bled massacred by troops forty years ago
She survived that ground of genocide,
walks on now it daily, breathing, teaching
She has sisters in grief across the world
Does she know she is teaching Syrians, too?
A man whose home in Kosovo
was burnt by Milosovic’s troops—
he rebuilt from ruins, sleeping in the woodshed
Soldiers burned even his apple trees
but I smell his apple blossoms this spring,
put my face in them like a bee
storing nectar for Syria
His sister hid in the forest for months,
cold, death falling around her
Presumed dead for a year,
she feeds me a hot meal today at her home
I eat, hungry for news of Syrians
who will return from the forest alive

—Mohja Kahf