Tateh and CeDe ( my grandfather) circa 1937
Upon the landscape of your face
tumbling from the folds of your laughing brow
and between the creases of your weathered jowl
I see the history of Palestine.
I see children playing under olive trees, and goats
grazing on grass. Your eyes sparkle and sing, as though
you were still a child running through the dusty
rock strewn roads of Ramallah.
You are laughing with your little sister, escaping
from the neighborhood boys you were teasing; taunting.
Perhaps one of them a young Hanna Shihadeh, our grandfather;
at least these are the stories you told us.
I delighted, relished every word you spoke
of your life. I saw magic in your eyes
when you enchanted our hearts
with your stories of Palestine.
You – solid, sturdy and present.
You – soft, strong and pliant.
You – heart, song and pleasant.
You – Tateh, our beloved link to our history, our culture, our people.
You were our land, our fig tree, our grapevine, our seed.
You were our small patch of fertile earth. You fed our souls
and minds with the world, with “otherworldliness”.
You fed our spirits with story, with beauty, and with freedom.
Your solid girth seemed rooted
deep in humanity, reminding us of
the vastness of love, when we became lost;
disconnected from it.
Storyteller of our bloodlines,
of our rich hearts
and our sad people,
tell me another story.
Give me a bone,
an olive branch, or perhaps
one of your two – eyed winks
to remind my soul you were real.
And that I am part of history; of an ancient great Palestine
that seems so distant, so foreign from me now.
Tell me again how you came to be locked in the landscape
of memory, of story, of history. Tell me again.
Niemeh Grace Shihadeh
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