We Are More: Two Poems








                       I am terrified   
                                                                                                    of long sentences   

and if you meet me                        perhaps you’ll notice                                  
                                                                                                                                              how poetic
my brevity can be          when      mostly              it is fear of saying too much                   
                                                                                                                                that cripples me     
lest you sense that behind an eloquent voice              
                                                            is one always weeping            and                too long a list
of what’s wrong in the world              
                                                                it’s funny                                                                         
                                                                                                    people praise me for vulnerability                  they don’t know I’ve put my own soul on the shelf in my closet I cannot reach        
                one time               a lady said        do you sell your confidence          to speak     in bottles
                                I smiled                                                           and went home
                                                          to someone she has never met                      
how could she when before I walk through a door
                                                                                                  I hang myself on the frame   
      she’ll never know the turmoil within                                                                                    
                                              or how too small a word like father or war pushes me
from a mountain top
                                                      at least               
                                                                  I know what’s wrong
                                                                                                and what parts of me
                I lock              up
people spend their entire lives spilling over each other   searching     for a container big enough for their fragments                            I’m lucky at least I’ll spend mine searching for the key        
                                                                                                              so what   
                              you don’t know everything about me                   
                                                                    no one even knows everything about themselves      
                                        if we did           
                                                                                                        wouldn’t have been invented
            and frankly                
                                                                    it’s kind of useless                                                    
                to pretend more words               or tears                   would heal what cannot be changed but I promise  
            in the name of trying                              
                                    I’ll keep at it until something in me leaks                
          and maybe                               just maybe                                I’ll run out of grief

                            before I do ink       or air





Years after we escaped the war            
                                                            we spotted our own      chairs sofas loveseats on TV
while watching a series         my mother screamed over ads and the actors’ voices
                            they were ours
                                              from when my grandfather won a hotel auction decades ago
                          giant walnut wood chairs       engraved by hand  
there was no  mistaking
                          the intricate         mother of pearl inlays     from afar          or
                                                                                                            your biggest fear
finding you wherever you are
                                      who knew family treasures haunt and not just in nightmares
my mother screamed over ads and the actors’ voices
                                      who needs made-up tales when reality
                                                                                                                is drama and horror
I can’t imagine what it’s like playing a character
                        in a costume              behind a voice           on a chair stolen and sold
God knows how many times over          we asked our neighbors            they said        yes        they said            they saw          they said            people we know were breaking in        
loading trucks’ worth of money and memories    

                                                    our building    now a museum
                                                                                        for what isn’t there
                    and open from both ends
                                                  one by hungry hands
                                                          another by bombs
                                                                    slipping down airplanes
                                                                                like sheer stockings
I imagine it a face          our building 

                         stretched skin and without features 

    by the last episode
                          we had found old albums                looked through flip-phones
realized           those chairs         they weren’t exactly exactly ours
                                  but in our minds           


                                                                    they’ll always be



Logo by Mina M. Jafari
Column artwork by Abdel Morched.

We Are More is an inclusive space for SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) and SWANA diaspora writers to tell our stories, our way. Curated by Michelle Zamanian, this new column seeks to disrupt the media’s negative and stereotypical narratives by creating a consistent platform to be heard, outside of and beyond the waxing and waning interest of the news cycle. We’ll publish creative nonfiction, graphic essays, fiction, poetry, and interviews by SWANA writers on a wide variety of subject matter.

Sara Abou Rashed is a Palestinian American poet and speaker. In 2018, she launched an autobiographical one-woman show about immigration and finding home titled, A Map of Myself, which she has performed over 15 times across the US. Her works appear in the anthology A Land With A People and 9-12 English Language Arts curriculum from McGraw Hill as well as in ArabLit Quarterly, Poetry Wales, Poetry Magazine, Pleiades, among others. Sara graduated from Denison University and is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Michigan. More @mapofmyself or www.saraabourashed.com More from this author →