House of Beirut


 
for Mona El Hallak
 
 

There was a time when my ancestors would have been united
knighted by the conqueror’s blade as Ottoman. Not Lebanese,
not Turkish. I cannot imagine the ease of being only one thing.
I am sure this too is a fantasy. In Beirut, a memorial is taking
over a house where every bullet hole has been given a name,
a shrine to the violence that (r)ejected my family. Only in light
of this can you call it Paris, otherwise leave that imperial shade
alone. They say people are afraid to speak of the civil war lest
it spark back to life. The war is not taught. Who knew my family
have been following official policy for years? They will be devast
-ated to hear it. All my knowledge is myth-made, media driven,
an inherited memory put through the dryer one too many times.
It’s small now, so small, the colours faded and riddled with many
perfect holes. I still wear it every day.

 
 
 

Omar Sakr is an Arab-Australian poet. His debut collection, 'These Wild Houses', was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award and the Kenneth Slessor Prize. His new collection, The Lost Arabs (2019), is forthcoming with UQP.