A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
For John Reoli
to be of arab descent
is a practice of disassociation,
you write. I read dislocation,
wrenched identity. Hanging
limply from sorrow’s shoulder.
You write, i guess i always knew
but it was so unconscious...
Our grandmothers counted their gold
along the lengths of their arms.
We spin ours from paper until dawn.
If someone said our true names three times,
cousin, would we flame and disappear?
as if most americans can distinguish
the differences, or even care to…
Does every desperate act erase the differences,
bring us closer to those in nameless cells
held by force of lawlessness or burning will?
If we live, John, my grandfather said
when anyone spoke of the future. If we live.
from Arab on Radar (Six Gallery Press). Copyright 2008 Angele Ellis.
Angele Ellis’ grandfather in his cigar store in Carthage, New York, circa 1940s.