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.