Syrian-American as in—a room with mahogany

double doors and nothing behind them


but death and dead. We all have dead.

Syria and America, two unplanned graves


of mangled legs, mud-crusted skin.

I roll my heart in, shovel the sand.


Syrian-American as in—I am only half

of my father and waning as America takes me in


without warmth, his country also waning

into a rubble where children play.


The moment I saw my father in me,

Syrian and American equal in us,


both countries turned inside out

to swallow their own humanity.


I traverse unimaginable space—a pilgrimage

undue to higher powers—and on the other


side, I reach for my father, to find what is left

when we become a menagerie


of losses. His hand, an artifact of Palmyra

kept safe in a home where no one lives.


Syrian-American as in—here we are,

far away from all the war, an elegy


for what is left over, praying for halves

to make a home.

Dana Alsamsam is a queer, Syrian-American poet from Chicago and an MFA candidate at Emerson College. She is assistant poetry editor at Redivider and editorial assistant at Ploughshares. Dana's chapbook (in)habit is forthcoming from tenderness, yea press and her poems are published or forthcoming in Poetry East, Hobart, DIALOGIST, The Collapsar, Blood Orange Review, Bad Pony Mag, Oxidant Engine, Cosmonauts Avenue, BOOTH and others.